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Knock secures ’hub’ status

Ireland West Airport Knock
INTERNATIONAL Ireland West Airport Knock

Knock secures ‘international’ status

Michael Duffy

THE good news just keeps rolling in for Ireland West Airport Knock. Less than a month after the announcement of transatlantic flights, the Government seem to have secured the future of the airport for many years to come by investing €27m in its facilities in the next four years.
The funding, which was announced last week as part of the Government’s capital grants package for regional airports, will be spent on major improvements to the airport’s existing facilities, with the new CAT II ILS Instrumentation Landing System reducing the possibility of diversions due to poor weather and low visibility conditions, a problem that has become associated with the airport in the past due to low-lying fog.
Deputy John Carty told The Mayo News that garnering this substantial funding for Knock Airport was his top priority when he was elected as a TD.
“I told you at the announcement of the transatlantic flights that I was confident of a positive funding announcement for Knock and I am delighted with the level of that funding. I have been working tirelessly on behalf of Ireland West Airport Knock since I was elected to the Dáil in 2002 and I have worked closely with the Airport’s manager Liam Scallon and all the staff. This funding is good news for everyone in Mayo.”
Ireland West Airport Knock Airport Managing Director, Mr Liam Scollan, said the funding ensures the airport’s status as ‘the international hub for the west, northwest and midlands counties’.
“This, together with the relocation of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs here, the development of the Western Road and Rail Corridor, and the new impetus to driving tourism growth in the region, forms part of an overall picture of increased confidence to invest in the growing success of  the west of Ireland.  I especially wish to thank our passengers and the communities from our region who have demonstrated to us, and to the Government, that this airport is a huge part of the social and transport fabric of this country. They have ensured that the airport is indeed a deserving benefactor of public funding and that it should be a top priority for regional and transport infrastructural investment into the future.”
Commenting on the investment, Mr Joseph Kennedy, Chairman, said: “We thank the Government, Minister Cullen and his Department of Transport officials who have worked with the airport over many years to put this investment in place. We also thank the many local Government representatives, most notably John Carty TD, and his colleagues in the region. Deputy Carty has consistently shown strong support for the airport and ensured that our funding needs were always high on the agenda at national level. I am grateful also to our local TDs from all parties and the Independents who have regularly raised the issue of airport funding.”
Dr Jerry Cowley, TD, also welcomed the announcement of the funding but felt the Government could take a further step and introduce ‘a Shannon Airport type tax-free manufacturing zone’.
“At present the 65-acre business park being developed at Ireland West will facilitate the establishment of knowledge-based industries and high tech manufacturing at the airport. This 65-acre business park will be ready for marketing at the end of the second quarter of 2007 and having this special tax free zone will make all the difference in guaranteeing its success,” said Deputy Cowley.
At the announcement of the funding, Minister Martin Cullen said the airport had ‘a proven track record’ and that the grant decision recognises the airport’s ‘key strategic importance to the west and northwest’.

>    Apron extension to allow a greater number of aircraft on the ground
>    CAT II ILS Instrumentation Landing System on Runway 27
>    Construction of a perimeter inspection road and fence
>    Runway upgrade extending the existing safety area at both ends
>    Additional departures lounge space
>    New security screening area
>    New departure gates
>    A baggage sorting facility