Knock seeking extra EU aid for runway revamp
Airport has been granted funding for the vital project but is now looking for more, writes Fearghal O'Connor
Ireland West Airport has been granted funding for a crucial runway rehabilitation and overlay project but has made an application to the EU for an exemption under State aid rules to allow for an increased level of aid.
The airport, with the backing of the Department of Transport, has made a large number of submissions to EU authorities to allow extra funding for the project due to the crucial nature of the work to be undertaken and the airport's peripheral and remote location.
"We remain positive that there will be a good outcome," said the Co Mayo airport's managing director, Joe Gilmore.
The runway repair project, which will commence in the second part of this year and run right through next year, is the key part of an overall €15m two-year investment programme that is under way at the airport.
Work has commenced on planning, design and the preparation of tender documentation with a view to going to market over the coming weeks to appoint a main contractor.
The airport last year saw traffic of more than 750,000 passengers and it is predicting further growth this year of between 4pc and 5pc with added UK capacity by Flybe and Ryanair, despite Brexit concerns.
The runway was originally built in 1986 by a team led by local priest Monsignor James Horan and the runway, as well as key taxiways and underground cabling for runway lighting systems, now require major rehabilitation.
Other projects under the current investment plan include an upgrade of air traffic control systems and the airport's hold baggage screening equipment ahead of the introduction of strict new security protocols.
Regional airports are funded under a programme managed by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) under which management at the airport had applied for grant funding.
"As the project will be completed over the latter part of 2018 and 2019, the airport was pleased to receive phase one approval yesterday for 2018 expenditure on the project under the PPR-C (public policy remit - capital) and Capex (capital expenditure) schemes of the Regional Airports Programme 2015-2019 of an amount €1.2m at a 75pc aid intensity level," the airport said in a statement.
The Capex scheme, under which Knock applied for funding, allows for 75pc aid, while the PPR-C scheme, which provides for critical safety and security at airports, allows for 90pc funding. The airport is seeking an exemption to 2014 state aid guidelines to allow it to receive the higher level of funding.
"The airport has with the support of the DTTAS made an application to the EU for a higher level of aid intensity to a 90pc level and is awaiting a decision on this matter," said the statement. The case is currently being adjudicated on by the EU's Directorate General for Competition.
Sunday Indo Business