New Capital Injection Ensures the Airport’s Status as The International Hub for the West, North West and Midlands Counties
The announcement today by Martin Cullen TD, Minster for Transport, of €27 million in funding for Ireland West Airport Knock under the new Capital Expenditure Grant Scheme for Regional Airports marks the single largest investment ever in the history of the Airport and comes as a major boost to driving the future growth and development of the Airport and the region. The Airport’s success in securing this level of investment forms part of its ambitious ongoing development plan which will see Ireland West Airport Knock further strengthen its position as the main international air access gateway for the West/North West and Midlands region. This was boosted recently by the announcement of its first ever scheduled transatlantic flights with flyglobespan to New York and Boston which will commence in May this year. The Airport has trebled its passenger numbers within the last four years and served over 20 flight destinations in 2006.
The funds, which will be drawn down over a four year period under the National Development Plan, will enable the Airport to further enhance safety and security systems, improve and expand facilities for aircraft handling and increase the size of the terminal building. This investment will form part of the Airport’s overall €45.9 million capital investment programme and will underpin its goal of developing new short, medium and long haul international air routes and growing annual passenger numbers to over one million.
One of the key projects planned will be to improve the Airport’s landing systems including CAT II Instrumentation Landing Systems (ILS) which will enable aircraft to land in extreme weather conditions. In addition, new construction projects will include the expansion of the Airport’s aircraft parking area known as the apron, extension of the Airport’s security screening and departures lounge areas, and the upgrading of the airfield’s perimeter fencing.
Improvements to the Airport’s aircraft handling reliability and the other expansion projects will be strongly felt in the region as:-• greater reliability will help the Airport connect to major cities and to provide long-haul services, thereby making the region far more accessible for business traffic from all over the world; more passengers will mean more tourists. It is now estimated that inbound tourists through the Airport will be spending in excess of €120 million per year in the region by 2010; more expansions mean more jobs regionally and locally. Airport activity will lead to 1,600 jobs in the region by 2010.
Commenting on the investment, Mr. Joseph Kennedy, Chairman, says: “We thank the Government, Minister Cullen and his Department of Transport officials who have worked with the Airport over many years to put this investment in place. We also thank the many local Government representatives, most notably John Carty T.D, and his colleagues in the region. Deputy Carty has consistently shown strong support for the Airport and ensured that our funding needs were always high on the agenda at national level. I am grateful also to our local TDs from all parties and the Independents who have regularly raised the issue of airport funding.”
Mr. Liam Scollan. Managing Director adds: “The Board and staff of the Airport view this investment as a true vote of confidence in Ireland West Airport Knock’s crucial importance for this region, for Connaught, Donegal, the Border counties to the North, and the Midland counties to the East. This together with the relocation of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs here, the development of the Western Road and Rail Corridor, and the new impetus to driving tourism growth in the region forms part of an overall picture of increased confidence to invest in the growing success of the West of Ireland. I especially wish to thank our passengers and the communities from our region who have demonstrated to us, and to the Government, that this Airport is a huge part of the social and transport fabric of this country. They have ensured that the Airport is indeed a deserving benefactor of public funding and that it should be a top priority for regional and transport infrastructural investment into the future. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the staff of the Airport, notably Robert Grealis, Director of Finance and Operations who spearheaded the most successful funding application in the Airport’s history with the Department of Transport.”