Wednesday 20 September 2017

Waterford Airport gets €1m grant despite no air services

Earlier this year, Waterford TD John Halligan claimed he had secured €10 million ‘in principle’ for the building of a new runway. Photo: Tom Burke
Earlier this year, Waterford TD John Halligan claimed he had secured €10 million ‘in principle’ for the building of a new runway. Photo: Tom Burke
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Waterford Airport - which has no scheduled air services - has been handed a €1m grant by the Department of Transport to help pay its bills.

The money has been given to Waterford Airport on top of an €870,000 allocation made to it in September to fund safety and security improvements.

The airport was told that it would not receive any of that €870,000 until it had a scheduled service again.

The Department of Transport - headed by Minister Shane Ross - confirmed that the latest allocation made to Waterford is to provide assistance towards safety and security operational costs at a time when the airport has virtually no income.

The airport is used as a base for a search and rescue helicopter, and also used by private pilots. The Department said that security and safety costs covered under the latest €1m grant to Waterford Airport had already been incurred and that the money would be paid immediately to the airport.

Waterford Airport has had no scheduled services since losing a link to London Luton in June. It was operated by now-bankrupt Belgian airline VLM.

The airport could struggle to secure a fresh air link given that it's less than a two-hour drive from Waterford to either Dublin or Cork.

The Government originally committed €28m in its 2016-2022 capital plan for the country's four regional airports, at Waterford, Donegal, Kerry and Knock.

It then earmarked an additional €10m. The money is administered by the Department of Transport.

The Department will begin to allocate the €10m next year.

Earlier this year, Waterford TD John Halligan claimed he had secured €10 million 'in principle' for the building of a new runway.

However, it later emerged the funding had not been earmarked for the runway. In fact, in the latest funding round for the country's four regional airports, the Department of Transport has allocated a total of just under €2.8m.

Waterford has received the biggest chunk of the funds.

Ireland West Airport Knock got €868,000; Donegal Airport got €320,000; and Kerry Airport got nearly €563,000.

"This support is very important for these smaller airports and for the role they play in promoting a level of international connectivity to support the tourism and business sectors in their regions," said Mr Ross.

Waterford Airport has been trying for months to secure new services. VLM went into bankruptcy soon after cancelling its Waterford route. VLM chief executive Hamish Davidson told the Irish Independent earlier this year that he did not think sufficient demand existed for larger jet use at Waterford.

Irish Independent

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