Ireland West Airport Knock.PHOTO: ALISON LAREDO.

Eu funding boost for knock airport

THE chairman of the Ireland West Airport Knock Study Group, Deputy John O’Mahony, has welcomed the decision by the European Commission to include Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK) in Ireland’s 2015 to 2019 Regional Airports Programme.

The inclusion of IWAK follows on from a lengthy process of negotiations that Deputy O’Mahony was heavily involved in over the past couple of years.

Deputy O’Mahony said that Transport Minister Pascal Donohoe will visit IWAK in September to see the facilities and meet the board.  

Said the Mayo TD: 'I wish to acknowledge the work and personal interest of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny to IWAK.  

'The programme will allow for the State to provide much needed financial supports to the four regional airports, including IWA Knock, Donegal, Kerry and Waterford, over the lifetime of the programme.

'State aid, under a Core Airport Management Operational Expenditure (OPEX) scheme and a Regional Airports Capital Expenditure Grant (CAPEX) scheme, will now be made available, where appropriate, to IWAK in accordance with the criteria set out in the 2014 EU guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines.

'The formal approval permits Ireland to provide financial supports to the regional airports, under the two main schemes, up to a maximum aid intensity level of €42.5m over the period 2015 to 2019.

'The level of funding provided in each year of the programme will be determined on the basis of submissions from the airports, including five-year business plans, and the availability of exchequer resources in any one year.

'In addition to the financial supports in accordance with EU State aid rules, the exchequer will also provide financial assistance to the regional airports for those costs associated with Public Policy Remit requirements.

'Approval of the 2015-2019 programme will greatly assist the regional airports in working towards a position of viability over the course of the programme. Knock Airport will now make their submissions to the Department of Transport for supports under the programme.'

Deputy O’Mahony said the announcement is hugely significant in the context of the continued development and growth of the airport.

He added: “This is major news and it cannot be overstated just how important a development this is. The growth of Knock Airport and the growth and development of the western region are inextricably linked, and this news that IWAK can now make their submissions for support under the programme has to be seen as a hugely positive step.

'This process has been ongoing for a long time and a huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes. When the public looks at Knock Airport they see a progressive airport that is continually adding new destinations and they see an airport that is used by people from right across the region.

'That has not happened by accident and it is because of the energy and commitment of the management and staff at the airport that is it rightly regarded as one of the leading regional airports in the country.

'The benefits it has already brought to the west of Ireland are impossible to measure and the good news today is that those benefits will continue to be felt by the people that live in the west.'