Ballina Chamber Say Government Must Increase Financial Support For Ireland West Airport Knock

Ballina Chamber Say Government Must Increase Financial Support For Ireland West Airport Knock

Ballina Chamber of Commerce have said that Ireland West Airport Knock, will play a major role in rebuilding the tourism industry in the county after the Covid-19 crisis and the Government must maintain and increase its financial support to the regional airport, voicing its opposition to calls from the three State-owned airports to reduce or remove State funding for Ireland West Airport, as well as Kerry, Donegal and Waterford airports.

DAA and Shannon Group, which between them operate Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports, claim the State subvention provided to four regional airports needs to be reduced under a new Regional Airports Programme (RAP) 2020-2024 in order to comply with the objective of the Government’s National Aviation Policy to phase out funding operational expenditure at unviable airports by 2024.

Ireland West Airport Knock is the main international air access gateway for the West, North West and Midland regions of Ireland and is currently flying to over 20 international destinations.

President of Ballina Chamber, Gerry Luskin, stated: 

“Ireland West Airport Knock, already plays a vital part in connecting the West and North West of the country to Europe and further afield.  It is disheartening that now, in the middle of the worst crisis to hit the tourism and hospitality sector and indeed the west coast of Ireland, that such a call by three heavily-funded State-Owned Airports has been made now. Given that 2019 passenger figure results marks an additional 5% increase in figures of 807k for the first time in the airports history, surpassing the previous record of 772k, these figures illustrates the airports continuing growth and market share in Ireland’s aviation industry.”

Mags Downey Martin, Manager Ballina Chamber of Commerce and Ballina Tourist Office added;

“Ireland West Airport Knock acts as an economic driver for the region. With positive growth in passenger figures year on year, and the airport boasting its fourth consecutive year of record passenger figures, as well as serving 20 International destinations, state investments are already seeing positive financial return into the regional economy of North West.

Ireland West Airport and its supports illustrates the continued need for backing for rural Ireland, and we urge the Government to continue to do so, at a time when our Tourism industry is on its knees due to the Covid-19 crisis. What is most frustrating is that great inroads were already being made in the county and North West. Hotels in the region and visitor attractions were recording an increase in European visitors in particular, with many tourists coming to Ballina and the north of the county to visit Downpatrick Head, one of the Wild Atlantic Way signature points, Ceide Fields, Ballina’s Jackie Clarke Collection and of course to enjoy fishing on the River Moy.”

Gerry also added “Knock Airport is more than just a transport provider, it encapsulates the spirit of the county and the West of Ireland.

And while we acknowledge the Department for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Minister of State, Brendan Griffen’s support of regional airports and Ireland West Airport Knock, we urge the next Government to be cogniscant of the vital importance the airport brings to the economy and the people of the county and the region. “

A 2019 Ernst and Young Study highlighted that Ireland West Airport and its passengers generate significant economic impacts for the Northern and Western region with tourism spending by its passengers generating €217m and supporting 3,177 jobs in the wider region.

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