Press statement on funding for Knock Airport

16th February, 2016

As part of its on-going engagement with the regional airports, officials of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport met with representatives of Donegal, Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK), Kerry and Waterford airports today, Monday 15th February. The implementation of the Department’s new Regional Airports Programme was reviewed and the meeting provided the airports with the opportunity to seek clarifications on issues of interest.


The new Programme was approved under State aid Guidelines by the EU Commission last August and it provides for Exchequer support towards safety and security related projects/activities at the regional airports under four separate Schemes covering capital investments and operating costs.


Specifically in the case of IWAK, that airport has already indicated to the Department that, even with the maximum level (75%) of capital support allowed for under the EU Guidelines for some of their major projects, they believe that they will have difficulty raising the balance from their own resources. However, the Guidelines recognise that airports with fewerthan 1 million passengers per annum may face this difficulty and, subject to a case-by-case assessment, and depending on the particular characteristics of the airport concerned, an aid rate in excess of 75% may be justified in exceptional circumstances. In such a scenario, the EU Commission has indicated that a business case, justifying the proposed higher aid rate, would have to be approved by them.


The Department is aware of the challenges facing IWAK in the coming years and is engaging with the airport on how best it may be possible to assist the major planned projects at Knock, whether this be by submitting a case to the EU Commission (to provide grant aid in excess of 75%) or by other means, in conformity with State aid Guidelines.


Minister Paschal Donohoe said “I am very conscious of the value of the regional airports and this is reflected in our National Aviation Policy that was published last August. In particular, that Policy recognises that IWAK plays a more regional role in terms of access than the other airports given its location in the North West. A greater degree of balanced regional development is particularly important as the national economic recovery continues’.


“I am fully committed to providing grant funding to secure the future of IWAK so that it can continue to fulfil this role. This will be provided in accordance with the applicable schemes and State-aid guidelines. If this requires that a case be made to the European Commission to provide grant aid for capital expenditure in excess of 75% then that course of action will be followed.  I am however hopeful that the funding requirements can be met without recourse to the Commission for approval.”