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State called on to give Knock Airport €5m a year

Councillor calls for €5million annual subvention for Knock Airport

Anton McNulty

A MAYO County Councillor has called for Knock Airport to be awarded an annual subvention of up to €5 million and significant capital investment from the Government to allow it to match its potential.
Members of Mayo County Council are to meet with the management of Ireland West Airport Knock this Friday in order to get a better understanding of what the airport needs to grow into the future following the governments decision to write off Shannon Airport’s €100 million debt.
Charlestown based Sinn Féin councillor Gerry Murray said that ‘unless Fine Gael want a death wish in the county’ it was inevitable that Knock Airport will receive a similar subvention but the question remained how much they would receive.
Cllr Murray explained that the reality of the situation was that the airport’s finances were surviving on parking fees and the financial situation was ‘fragile’. He said the airport were under an excellent management but felt the operational potential of the airport was restricted until they received an annual subvention.
“The airport has been facing the same problems for the past 20 years and during that time previous governments have failed to step up to the plate,” he told The Mayo News.
“Since the Shannon bailout was flagged up 12 months ago, the management of Knock have been knocking on the Taoiseach’s door. I think the government will make concessions, there is no other option for them but the only question is the nature of the concessions.
“The airport will need a commitment on capital spending of €100 million and a subvention of between €2.5 million and €5 million per year. That is no big deal, the Abbey Theatre gets €2 million per year from the Arts Council and that is not considered a big deal. People will say that is important but Knock Airport is every bit as important but there may be some people who may not think that way.”
Cllr Murray added that the financial limitations placed on the airport were restricting operation times for the airport such as late night and early morning weekend flights from London which he said would allow the airport to meet and exceed it target of one million passengers per year.
He said he believed an airport was not all about making a profit but was a crucial piece of infrastructure which will open up the region and any investment will be paid back in taxes.
The Government’s decision to launch a package of measures to secure the future of Shannon Airport has been severely criticised by the Managing Director of Ireland West Airport Knock Joe Gilmore. Last month he said the decision to intervene in one airport while ignoring other airports amounts to an unfair, and possibly illegal use of scarce resources.

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