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Brexit uncertainty hangs over Knock airport


Edwin McGreal

A ‘hard’ Brexit could lead to a ‘chaotic’ period at Knock airport, according to the airport’s CEO Joe Gilmore.
Mr Gilmore was speaking after a presentation he gave to Mayo County Council recently.
Mr Gilmore revealed that 80 percent of Ireland West Airport Knock’s (IWAK) business comes from flights to and from the United Kingdom. Growing uncertainty in recent weeks over the nature of the Brexit the UK Government will opt for is being keenly felt at Knock.
“The ante is increasing. A hard Brexit we would see as being potentially chaotic for three to six months,” said Mr Gilmore.
He said if the UK were to depart from the European Aviation Safety Agency, then it would lead problems for flights to and from the UK and Knock.
In recent days the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has confirmed a new agreement would need to be reached in the event of a hard Brexit to allow British flights into European airspace and to land in airports including in Ireland.
Despite the shadow of Brexit hanging since the referendum was passed in June 2016, Mr Gilmore said that 2017 saw record numbers for Knock airport on UK routes.
The airport had an extra 18,000 passengers travelling to and from the UK in 2017, a three percent increase on 2016. They had record numbers flying to the UK for six out of the 12 months in 2017.
Mr Gilmore said UK numbers were growing still further with the addition of 16,000 extra seats on FlyBE routes to Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester, along with Ryanair’s Knock to Bristol service now operating year round.
Mr Gilmore was responding to questions from Sinn Féin’s Cllr Teresa Whelan after giving a presentation at Mayo County Council’s Economic Development and Enterprise Support Strategic Policy Committee quarterly meeting.