With the announcement that the low-cost airline Is to commence four new direct services to and from Barcelona, Frankfurt, Milan and Paris starting in March means a massive projected €23 million spend for the local economy, an increase in tourist visitors and the safeguarding if not increased job opportunities at the Barnacuige base.
Ireland West Airport Knock has achieved what Sligo, Galway and Shannon Airports are lacking – sustainable and profitable European routes, which these will, no doubt, prove to be in the New Year.
The negotiating skills of the Scollan team in the face of Michael O’Leary had to be at their best to convince Ryanair the conditions were right for them to invest in Knock.
The new deal sees Ryanair expanding their route network to 14 scheduled destinations across the UK and to the key European markets of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
We all know the new Ryanair routes are to airports some distance for the designated cities.
But at the low cost Ryanair prices passengers can well afford a bus, train or taxi to the nearest centre of population.
Last year Ryanair launched weekly routes to the Canary Islands, which have proven to be a huge success and no doubt the same will be in the offing for the new European flights.
Of course, these routes go both ways and we can expect an influx of continental visitors to the west and north west of Ireland.
We have an unspoiled environment offering unrivalled angling opportunities to leisure travellers in both sea and fresh water, walking routes on the western greenway and the Bangor Trail and the best Blue Flag beaches in the country.
According to Michael O’Leary they will deliver over 500,000 passengers and sustain more than 500 jobs in the region next summer.
Putting this in context and the €10 departure fee at Knock it will mean a substantial boost to the coffers at the airport.
I have always been fully supportive of the departure levy and it may may prove the lifeblood of the operation.
To coincide with the launch Ryanair have released one million seats across their 14 routes out of Knock with fares from €9.99 for travel across Europe in January.
Along with the airport authorities Tourism Ireland must sell the benefits and attractions of the west and north west on the continental shores so that there will be full loads arriving at Knock on a weekly basis.
On Friday night, among others, who honoured the cast of On A Wing And A Prayer – the story of Monsignor James Horan the founder of Knock Airport - at the Mayo People of the Year Awards in Westport.
How timely on the week the future of the airport has been secured.
Machnamh na Seachtaine
Ainm gan tábhacht.
The name without the substance.