THE directors of Ireland West International Airport Knock have stated, unequivocally, that military flights through the airport will not be considered, but have confirmed that they are in advanced stages of negotiations to offer a transatlantic service to New York.
The board of the airport discussed the issue of military flights at a meeting over the weekend, after which they announced they would only ever consider facilitating military flights on humanitarian and ethical grounds and would require the support of the Government and the United Nations for such a move.
Mr Liam Scollan, CEO of the airport, told The Mayo News that there would be ethical problems with the airport servicing military aircraft not supported by the UN, and the board was conscious of people’s views on the situation.
“We would not see serving military flights which do not have the support of the UN as consistent with the policy and aims of Ireland West Airport. We would have ethical problems and we wanted to make an unequivocal statement to people to say that we do not ever intend to handle those flights,” he said.
Mr Scollan said that while board member Mr Ulick McEvaddy had different views, those views could not be accommodated by the board, whose members will continue to work together ‘for the good of the airport’.
It was also confirmed over the weekend that the prospect of transatlantic flights taking off from Knock Airport moved a step closer to reality with the confirmation that they were in the advanced stages of negotiations with a Scottish airline to start a transatlantic service to JFK airport, New York.
Ireland West International Airport Knock are looking to finalise an agreement with the low-cost Scottish airline Flyglobespan, which will involve the airline’s flights from Liverpool to JFK stopping over in the east Mayo airport. The airline is introducing daily 12.30pm flights from Liverpool to JFK from May 25 and are looking to stop over in Knock several times a week.
Mr Scollan explained that the airport was not in a position to announce the service would be going ahead yet, but negotiations are at an advanced stage.
“We have always been trying very hard to get transatlantic flights and we are still awaiting final confirmation. It would be hugely critical for the region, as one third of the people who emigrated [from the western region] to the States came from around the catchment area of the airport. There is a huge human interest here, as there is no family in the west of Ireland who does not have a relative in the States who they want to see more often. It will bring neighbours and relatives closer together,” he said.
The airport has been lobbying for a number of years to get a transatlantic service and has had the backing of the tourism boards as well as the mayor of New York Mike Bloomberg, who gave his support on a visit to the airport last year.
With the prospect of transatlantic flights, the airport would have to undergo a number of urgent changes to overcome size constraints to cater for the larger aircraft.