A meeting between An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the board of Knock airport will take place on January 28 next.
The board of the airport had called for such a meeting with Enda Kenny to discuss their fears over the long-term future of the airport in light of the Government writing off the €100 million debt at Shannon Airport.
Cllr Cyril Burke (Fine Gael), Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, told yesterday’s meeting of the authority that the date had been arranged and that Minister of Transport Leo Varadkar indicated a desire to attend also.
There had been several calls in the past week for the Taoiseach to meet with the board as expeditiously as possible after the board met with 24 members of Mayo County Council on January 4 last to outline their fears after developments at Shannon Airport.
There, the board revealed to councillors that they believe the airport will need €75 million over five years in state funding to remain viable.
Cllr Micheál McNamara (Fianna Fáil) said it was vital that Fine Gael representatives in the county do all in their power to secure the long-term future of Knock airport.
“Nobody needs to question the support we [Fianna Fáil] have given to Knock in the past and we acknowledge that Shannon got substantial support from the Government and nobody questions [the need for] that, but there needs to be a level playing field, and there is no longer a level playing field in relation to Knock. It appears that an airport which has been doing well has lost out to an airport which wasn’t, and it doesn’t make sense.”
However, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, has accused Fianna Fáil of ‘rank hypocrisy’ over Knock Airport and stated that the opposition party’s transport spokesman, Deputy Timmy Dooley, clearly favours Shannon over Knock.
“Fianna Fáil’s representatives in Mayo have been dressing themselves up as the champions of Knock Airport, while spreading complete misinformation about the Government. Fianna Fáil should get its own house in order before throwing stones at the Government. Let nobody question my commitment to Knock airport, whether they be in Fianna Fáil or on the airport board. I provided €1.02 million in 2012 for cooperative overseas marketing campaigns that specifically benefit routes serving Knock. No other regional airport got this funding.
“This Government has had an unprecedented degree of engagement with the authorities at Knock. My Department and this Government as a whole remain committed to assisting the authorities at Knock as they grow the business further.”
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