Western Chambers Call for Increased Funding for Ireland West Airport Knock

Western Chambers Call for Increased Funding for Ireland West Airport Knock

On October 22nd, Galway Chamber, along with representatives from Ballina Chamber and fellow Chambers in Mayo and Sligo, met virtually with Minister of State for International and Road Transport and Logistics, Hildegarde Naughton T.D. This meeting was in response to a letter that was sent from the Western Business Community to the Minister, calling for Government to respond to the challenges currently facing Ireland West Airport Knock.

Ireland West Airport Knock had 807,000 passengers use their airport in 2019. This year they will have served less than 20% of that number, resulting in a significant loss.

Kenny Deery, CEO of Galway Chamber has stated “Our regional airports are of critical importance to the West of Ireland, in providing essential connectivity to global markets for regional businesses, in providing a gateway for much needed tourists and in attracting foreign direct investment into the region”.

At the meeting, Joe Gilmore, Managing Director of Ireland West Airport Knock, outlined the major issues that the airport is currently facing, “As a result of the catastrophic collapse in passenger traffic since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Government travel restrictions, the Airport will sustain losses of close to €4 million, and is seeking additional funding through the Regional Airport’s programme to sustain the business through this crisis”.

Mags Downey Martin, CE and Manager of Ballina Chamber and Ballina Tourist Office added “Ireland West Airport Knock is our lifeline to the world, bringing thousands of diasporia home annually, connecting the corporate world to the west of Ireland, we can not turn our back on Ireland West now.

The future can still be bright for Ireland West Airport but the support is needed now. The airport has made huge cost saving efforts, it has been proactive in communicating with government, it is working hard to reduce expenditure, but additional funding is needed similar to supports guaranteed to Cork and Shannon airports to the tune of €10 million, which was granted in the budget. In order for Ireland West to be ready for business in 2021, it needs support in 2020″.

Minister Hildegarde Naughton walked through the supports available for all businesses including our regional airports.

It was made clear to the Minister that these, though welcome, are inadequate to address the losses being incurred by Ireland West Airport. The Western Business Community represented by the Chambers are calling on Government to increase the regional airports funding programme for 2020, 2021 and a longer term commitment to regional airports for the coming decade, to ensure the sustainability of the airport and the region as a whole.

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