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Councillors approve €7.5m investment in Knock Airport

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Councillors approve €7.5m investment in Knock Airport

Anton McNulty

A DELOITTE report into Mayo County Council’s investment in Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK) has recommended that a €7.3 million cash investment be provided over a phased basis.
At yesterday’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council, councillors unanimously agreed to approve the raising of a loan of €7.3 million to facilitate the purchase of an equity share in the airport. In a historic agreement between Mayo County Council and six other local authorities in the region, they will purchase a 17.5 percent equity share in Ireland West Airport Knock.
A due diligence exercise was commissioned by Sligo County Council on behalf of the local authorities and carried out by Deloitte. The report was described as positive and it recommended that if a cash injection of €7.3 million is provided, it should be done on a phased basis over 24 months from May 2015.
Joanne Grehan, Head of Enterprise and Investment in Mayo County Council, outlined that the airport expects passenger numbers to grow to over 1.3 million by 2023 and the passenger numbers for last year were 703,318, which exceeded expectations.
Up to €35 million is being sought to invest in the airport’s infrastructure, with 90 percent of the funding to come from national government. However, the figure is subject to EU approval and the matter is still before the European Commission.
A study into the airport found that with the necessary investment it has the ability to create 2,000 full-time jobs for the region, and the financial input could be worth €270 million.
The motion was widely supported by the councillors, but there were some questions about when the EU approval for the 90 percent grant will be made and claims that Ireland had lost its economic sovereignty by having to have the funding approved by Europe.
Claims that An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s government had shown more support to Shannon Airport were also maide, but these were dismissed by the Fine Gael councillors.