ACCORDING TO the Managing Director of Ireland Airport West, Knock the ‘the west is most definitely awake’. Mr Liam Scollan was commenting in the aftermath of Sunday’s visit by the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, to the western airport to celebrate the recent announcement of transatlantic flights to New York and Boston.
Speaking to The Mayo News, Mr Scollan said the past week had been a momentous one in the history of the airport and he feels that recent developments will bring a multitude of benefits to the county of Mayo and the region as a whole.
Furthermore, he confirmed that there had been a phenomenal amount of interest in the newly-designated flight routes and that flight operator Flyglobespan had been inundated with enquiries.
“Traditionally, when American tourists flew into Shannon they followed a tried and trusted route of visiting Dublin, Cork and Kerry before taking in Clare and then returning home again. We are confident that with the announcement of flights into Knock Airport that people will most definitely stay in the region and that we can put our tourist attractions on the map, bringing revenue to our own county but also the region as a whole,” said Mr Scollan.
The Managing Director also paid tribute to his American counterparts who visited Knock over the weekend as guests of the airport.
“The visit of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, (pictured) Deputy Mayor for Government Affairs, Kevin Sheekey and their officials was twofold – firstly on our behalf to extend a warm hand of friendship and gratitude to the Mayor and his officials for the work they did in securing permission from the American transport department for the flights and secondly it was a promotional exercise on the part of the Mayor to publicise his city as a tourist destination,” explained Mr Scollan.
The event was attended by a number of commercial travel agents, local Council officials, a number of Mayo TDs and also Minister for Agriculture, Mary Coughlan.
“It was fantastic to have such a huge crowd in attendance and the atmosphere and whole sense of occasion was just tremendous. We have had unprecedented publicity in the past week on a regional, national and international scale and it has given such a positive impression of the area, ” said Mr Scollan.
Conscious of the traditional links between the west of Ireland and the east coast of the United States, Mr Scollan likened the official event to a ‘coming together of neighbours’.
“For so long there were huge numbers of people leaving Ireland. Now people are returning to the land and are flying into their home province. Last Sunday was like old neighbours re acquainting. It is amazing to think of the mayor of one of the largest cities in the world coming to the west of Ireland and to a place which was known as the ‘black hole of Connacht’. We are confident that the west of Ireland will capture the imagination of so many visitors to the region,” concluded Mr Scollan.
Speaking during his visit to the airport on Sunday, Mayor Bloomberg said: “When I last visited this picturesque corner of the Emerald Isle, I learned just how essential it was to establish a direct route between Ireland West Airport Knock and the United States – which is why one of my first tasks upon returning to the States was to lobby the US Department of Transportation to approve this vital connection between our countries.”