The figure was outlined to the elected members of Mayo County Council when they met the airport board last Friday to discuss the serious implications to the facility of the €300 million Shannon Airport bailout.
They were told the move will result in the loss of 300,000 passengers, cause revenue losses of up to €240 million, directly threaten 3,200 jobs, and damage ability to attract 500 new jobs.
The most worrying revelation, however, is that the airport faces ‘potential closure’ because of the situation.
There is disappointment that Taoiseach Enda Kenny is not meeting the airport directors to discuss their dilemma until January 20 at the earliest.
Standing orders were suspended at yesterday’s (Monday) budget meeting of the council to debate ‘the grave situation’ in which the east Mayo airport finds itself following the rescue package given to its main competitor.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Al McDonnell said he genuinely feared for the demise of the airport which will have devastating consequences for the existing social and economical structures in the west of Ireland.
He argued: “We are looking at a government downgrading of Knock in favour of Shannon. It should never have reached this point and the matter is of extreme urgency now.”
Independent Councillor Frank Durcan said that without Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK), the region would be on its knees.
He castigated the Fine Gael party ‘for letting down the people’ and forecasted that its elected members will reap a bitter harvest.
Independent Councillor Michael Holmes stated he was ‘shocked’ by the presentation by the airport directors.
“I have never seen such a serious situation for this county in 40 years. The airport is on a life-support machine. It’s just hobbling along like a rural school with one teacher. The wool was pulled over the eyes of Taoiseach Enda Kenny by his finance and transport ministers.”
Fine Gael whip, Councillor Joe Mellett, said the members of his party were as concerned about the airport as anybody else and he hoped a resolution will be reached when Deputy Kenny meets the airport directors later this month.
“It is wrong to blame the current administration for the present difficulties and the investment figure being quoted by the airport directors is very substantial in such difficult economic times. It will not be easy to give it, but I am convinced the airport has a future,” he said.
Councillor Annie May Reape (FF) said she was amazed to learn that Junior Minister Michael Ring declined to meet the airport directors on the basis ‘it was not his responsibility’.