O’Mahony challenges ‘misinformation’ on Knock Airport
The suggestion that government subsidies to regional airports should cease has been heavily criticised by a Mayo TD who claimed that ‘misinformation’ in the national media is damaging the reputation of Knock Airport. Fine Gael TD, John O’Mahony was responding to comments made in an Irish Times article by University of Limerick economist, Jim Deegan, who called for the government to stop subsidising loss-making regional airports while calling on Shannon Airport to be designated as the airport for the Wild Atlantic Way. Mr Deegan, who is also director of the National Centre for Tourism Policy Studies, claimed that regional airports like Knock were loss making and the capital and operating cost grants received by these businesses confer ‘an unfair advantage on them relative to Shannon, Cork and Dublin airports’. The arguments laid out by Mr Deegan were made in a paper prepared by him for the Shannon Airport Marketing Consultative Committee. “Any comparison of our airports should be fair and reasonable,” said Deputy O’Mahony. The article singles out certain small airports, but in reality, any discussion on loss making airports should also include Shannon and Cork airports. We also need to get a bit of perspective here. In 2012 Shannon had annual losses of circa €8 million whilst in the same year Cork Airport showed losses of circa €10 to 12 million. By comparison, in 2013 Knock Airport reported losses of €500,000 in 2013. “The Irish Times alleges that €2.2 million of the €5.7 million in State airport subsidies went towards covering losses at Kerry, Knock and Waterford. It is important to note that of this figure, Knock Airport received core operational support of approximately €500,000 which equates to just 22 per cent of total operational support claimed by regional airports. Knock had a throughput of 665,000 passengers in 2013 which is more than the other three regional airports of Kerry, Waterford, Donegal combined,” he said.