Published on December 27th, 2017 | by Mark Dwyer0
Emergency Funding Approved to Save Waterford Airport
The future of Waterford Airport looks very uncertain but the airport has been thrown a lifeline from the government with Emergency funding of €375,000. The funding will keep the airport operational for the next six months which will give management some space to secure a new commercial air service. Waterford Airport has been without commercial flights since June 2016. In a bid to boost its search for a new carrier, the airport received its full Regional Airports Programme funding for 2016, totalling €1.02 million. However, it is no longer eligible for this funding as there is no air service in place. Over the next six months the Department of Transport will actively engage with the management and board on the future of the airport.
In June 2017, a new airline called Aer Southeast announced they would launch flights from Waterford to London Luton, Manchester and Birmingham commencing on 24th July. However, it soon became clear that the airline had not received a licence to trade from the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR). Speaking at the time, its chief executive, Einar Adalsteinsson said “It is now clear that we will not be able to launch our service on July 24th as originally planned but we look forward to welcoming our customers aboard our maiden flight later on this summer.”
Slovenian carrier Lipican Aer, was due to operate the service using a Saab 340 on behalf of Aer Southeast. It has an AOC issued by the Slovenian Civil Aviation Agency but CAR approval is still required for Aer Southeast in order to sell tickets.
Waterford Minister of State John Halligan said that management are hopeful a new carrier will be in place by March. In November, CEO of Waterford City & County Council Michael Walsh said that an announcement of a new carrier at Waterford Airport was “imminent”.
However, at December’s plenary meeting of Waterford City & County Council, he sounded less optimistic when responding to a request for an update from Cllr Blaise Hannigan.
Recently, Danish based BackBone aviation have been rumoured to be interested in operating a service from Waterford to London Luton. They are an ACMI operator using two CRJ200 Regional Jets. However, the current runway length at Waterford (TORA 1433m, LDA 1343m/1290m) means that they would most likely need to limit their passenger load if any service was to be established.
Minister John Halligan has described the need for a runway extension as “crucial if Waterford Airport is to be viable in the long-term.” State money can’t be used for airport infrastructure but there are a number of other options under consideration.