Ireland West Airport Knock this week received funding of €1,314,000 from the Department of Transport, Tourism, and Sport to support safety and security projects under the Regional Airports Programme 2015-2019.
The programme provides for Exchequer support for various safety and security projects to be carried out at the airport in 2016.
Joe Kennedy, chairman, Ireland West Airport, said: “We welcome the announcement of funding by the Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport, Shane Ross, which will assist the airport in undertaking important safety and security related projects such as runway lighting, drainage, CCTV runway protection, generator housing, and the upgrade of existing equipment at the airport in 2016. We acknowledge the continued support from Government and look forward to continuing to work with them on a long term commitment and investment to support the airport’s growth and development plans.”
However, Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary says the €1.3m funding allocation announced by Minister Ross for Ireland West Airport Knock falls well short of what is needed.
The money will be used for safety and security upgrades, but will not provide for any long term projects at the airport.
Deputy Calleary commented: “While any investment in Ireland West Airport Knock is welcome, this announcement is nowhere near what’s needed to secure its long term future. The €1.3m will allow for some upgrade works to be carried out but it is nowhere near the investment that is envisaged in its capital plan.
"Over the past five years, Fine Gael has completely neglected the long term future of the airport. Successive Ministers for Transport have ignored the importance of the airport, not only to the local economy, but to the greater Western region, particularly in the advent of the Wild Atlantic Way. The number of visits made by Transport Ministers since 2011 could be counted on one hand.
“Ireland West Airport Knock is a valuable asset and should be at the heart of all Government plans for transport and tourism. It is a significant employer and provides important transport links to the UK and Europe bolstering the local and national economy.
“Instead of sporadic announcements, the Government must commit to a long-term, independent strategy for Knock with specific investment commitments”.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny welcomed the funding announcement, saying: "This €1.3 million funding brings the total Exchequer grant aid for Knock Airport to over €2 million for 2016. The airport also received €760,000 under the Public Policy Remit Capital Expenditure Grant Scheme. A group of local authorities in the northwest region have also invested in the airport and this additional funding has started being drawn down. This group of local authorities comprises Mayo County Council along with Galway county, Galway city, Sligo, Roscommon, Donegal, and Leitrim. These positive steps will help ensure regional support from neighbouring counties for Knock Airport as it continues to grow with increasing passenger numbers at the airport. The people of Mayo have always been proud of their local airport and this funding will help to ensure the airport is in a position to continue the success story to date.”