Harkin calls for proper Covid testing at all regional airports

Ireland West Airport Knock says government funding announced yesterday afternoon will help the airport’s cash position and improve its ability to take advantage of the hoped-for reopening of the economy in the first half of next year.

Ireland West Airport Knock, as well as airports in Donegal and Kerry, are to benefit from €6m in so-called ‘operational support.’

This is in addition to €21m funding announced for regional airports for 2021.

The purpose of the additional funding for regional airports is to make up for expected losses this year, which in the case of Knock is close to €4m.

That’s because of passenger traffic collapsing, from 807,000 passengers in 2019 to an estimated 145,000 this year – a level last experienced in 1995.

Arthur French, chairman of Ireland West Airport, says that without ongoing support, including from local authority shareholders, the airport would be in a ‘critically vunerable position.’

Mr French also welcomed a new national airport charges rebate scheme covering the first three months of next year.

This will provide support for the restoration of air services that are vital for the west and north west, such as links with key markets in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Sligo/Leitrim Independent TD Marian Harkin says she hopes the funding announced by government will be sufficient to see the aviation sector, including the airports at Knock and Donegal, survive the current crisis.

Deputy Harkin says regional airports should also have adequate Covid testing facilities available.