Minister Donohoe announces details of Exchequer funding for the regional airports

10th December, 2014

The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, has today (Wednesday) announced that he has approved the payment of just over €2million to the regional airports under the current Regional Airports Programme.


That funding is in respect of subvention payments in 2014 for Core Airport Management Operational Expenditure (OPEX). The OPEX Scheme compensates regional airports for eligible costs incurred in providing core airports services, insofar as they cannot be fully recovered from non-core income derived from activities such as restaurants, bars, parking and so forth.


Today’s approved funding will bring the total financial supports paid by the Exchequer under the Regional Airports Programme to nearly €13million in 2014.


Under the current Programme, which ends this year, the Exchequer provides financial support to Kerry, IWA Knock, Waterford and Donegal under three main schemes –

  • A Core Airport Management Operational Expenditure Subvention (OPEX) Scheme
  • A Regional Airports Capital Expenditure Grant (CAPEX) Scheme, and
  • A Public Service Obligation (PSO) air services Scheme.


Payments under the PSO Scheme are made directly to the carrier, while OPEX and CAPEX payments are made to the airports (see further details in respect of payments below). Over the lifetime of the current Programme, which commenced in 2011, over €60million will have been paid by the Exchequer under the three schemes.


As the current Programme ends this year, Ireland has submitted its Draft Regional Airports Programme for 2015 – 2019 to the EU Commission for consideration and discussions are currently taking place on the Programme as part of that consideration process. Following its approval, the overall supports that will be available to each of the four regional airports over the life of the new Programme will be identified.


In approving today’s OPEX payments under the current Programme, Minister Donohoe said: ‘The Government’s aim is to give regional airports the opportunity beyond 2014 to grow to a viable, self-sustaining position, particularly considering the contribution that they make to their regional and local economy. As a result, Exchequer support for the four regional airports will be continued beyond 2014. The decision to continue providing these necessary supports will facilitate the airports in developing and implementing new business plans leading to self-sufficiency within a ten year period. Central to these will be the need for regional and local business investment’.



Press Office, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, 01 604 1090 / 01 604 1093


Notes for Editors

  • A Core Airport Management Operational Expenditure Subvention (OPEX) Scheme – the general economic interest that is served by an airport in a regional location is recognised and supported. The Department of Transport, Tourism & Sports Core Airport Management Operational Expenditure Subvention Scheme (OPEX), which expires on 31st December 2014, operates in accordance with the EU Commission’s 2005 Guidelines on airport funding. Under the Scheme, the Minister may compensate the  regional airports for “subventible losses” – the costs incurred in  providing core airport services, insofar as these costs cannot be fully met by prudent commercial management and from any surpluses generated by non-core activities such as car parking charges and catering. It is proposed under the 2015-2019 Regional Airports Programme to continue subvention under the OPEX Scheme to qualifying regional airports.
  • A Regional Airports Capital Expenditure Grant (CAPEX) Scheme – Additional funding is provided to the regional airports to support capital investment under a Regional Airports Capital Expenditure Grant Scheme. In recent times, such grant aid has been limited to those projects or project elements that are essential for safety and security reasons. While the current Scheme ends on 31 December 2014, it is also proposed under the 2015-2019 Regional Airports Programme to continue financial supports under the CAPEX Scheme for safety and security related capital projects at the four regional airports.
  • A Public Service Obligation (PSO) air services Scheme – which provides financial support to airlines, based on a competitive tender, to operate essential services. It is a response to a need to ensure adequate connectivity in areas not otherwise served by adequate transport services. The current PSO air services contracts, for the Donegal/Dublin and Kerry/Dublin routes, were due to expire on 3 November 2014 but were extended to end January 2015. [Minister Donohue recently announced (26 November) the outcome of the public tender process for the retention of the Donegal/Dublin and Kerry/Dublin PSO air routes. The new combined contract with Stobart Air will operate from 1 February 2015 to 31 January 2017, with a possible one year maximum extension, subject to a satisfactory review after the initial period of 18 months.]

The total paid to each Airport in terms of CAPEX and OPEX in 2014 was as follows:

  1. IWA Knock €2,474,013
  2. Waterford €1,572,004
  3. Kerry €616,830
  4. Donegal €431,759


€7,762,668 was paid to two air carrier operators in respect of PSO supports.