The Board of Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK) has called on the government to take an ‘even-handed and equitable approach’ to aviation, tourism and enterprise in the west of Ireland following the government’s commitment to restructuring Shannon Airport.
The government announced that Shannon Airport is to be separated from the Dublin Airport Authority, and combined along with elements of Shannon Development into a new state-owned entity. The new entity would have the commercial mandate to drive tourism and economic growth in the area, while its current €100 million debt will be written off.
While welcoming the initiative to support the Mid-West region, the IWAK board has called on the government commits to a similar approach to the development of Knock Airport.
“We urge the Government to take an even-handed and equitable approach to significant aviation, tourism and enterprise investments in the West of Ireland. We continue to urge the Government to expedite its plans for the development of Ireland West Airport in conjunction with the developments at Shannon, so that the regions are equally well served and the State contributes on a similar basis to enterprise, tourism development and job creation throughout the West,” the airport’s chairman, Liam Scollan said in a statement.
Fianna Fáil TD, Dara Calleary has expressed serious concerns and the ‘potentially serious implications’ for Knock Airport following the government’s announcement on Shannon. He urged his fellow Mayo TDs to ensure that Knock Airport receives strong government support into the future.
“The Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has given strong indications that there will be debt write off at Shannon Airport. If this is to happen, I want to see any debts that Knock Airport may have written off in a similar fashion. If this new deal includes incentives for airlines to operate out of Shannon, I will demand a replica deal for airlines operating out of Knock. All I want is a level playing pitch,” he said.
However, Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony says he has been assured by An Taoiseach, that Knock Airport will not be disadvantaged by any restructuring in Shannon.
“The Taoiseach has also stated that his government will continue to support the development of Ireland West Airport Knock,” he said. “I will not stand by and allow its services or facilities to be diluted in any way. I endorse what the Chairman [Liam Scollan] said when he called for the Government to work with IWAK to further develop the airport so the northwest and west regions are equally well served with the midwest region.”
Meanwhile, the numbers travelling through Knock Airport were up 11 per cent for April 2012 compared to April 2011.
The airport revealed that almost 10,000 passengers used the new European services to Barcelona, Frankfurt, Milan and Paris in the first six weeks. Of this number, over 6,000 have been inbound visitors from the European countries in question.
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