Western Chambers call for increased funding for Ireland West Airport

CHAMBER of Commerce representatives from the west have called for increased funding for Ireland West Airport.

Representatives from Galway Chamber and Chambers in Mayo and Sligo have met virtually with the Minister of State for International and Road Transport and Logistics, Hildegarde Naughton, in response to a letter sent from the western business community to the minister calling for government to respond to the challenges facing the airport.

Ireland West Airport had 807,000 passengers use the facility in 2019. This year it will serve less than 20% of that number, resulting in a significant loss.

Kenny Deery, CEO of Galway Chamber, 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, outlined the major issues the airport is 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 Airports Programme to sustain the business through this crisis.

Minister 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 2020/21 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.