Published on January 7th, 2018 | by Mark Dwyer0
What lies ahead for Galway Airport?
As the future of Waterford Airport hangs in the balance the fate of Galway Airport shows us what happens as soon as airports close down. Galway has been without a commercial service since 31st October 2011 when Aer Arann (now Stobart Air) ceased operations at the airport. In November 2013 the aerodrome licence ceased and the airport was effectively closed except for operations of the Galway Flying Club who continue to have use of the airport. On 22nd December, Galway Flying Club were granted a temporary extension to their lease which will allow them to continue operations until 21st December 2018.
The 115-acre airport site was purchased in a joint venture between Galway County Council and Galway City Council in November 2013 for €1.1 million. Speaking at the time, Mayor Pádraig Conneely said that it “was not viable as an airport”. Estimates have put the cost of security of the site since it was bought at between €50,000 and €80,000 per year. It is just 4.5km from Galway City Centre
City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath said “A feasibility study two years ago, identified (suitable use as) a creative and film hub at the site. The hangars can be utilised on a short-term basis – TG4 used them for a 1916 documentary . . . the airport was identified in the Galway 2020 programme as a site where large-scale events can be held.”
“We are currently involved in a tendering process for use of the hangars as TV hubs – there has been quite a bit of interest expressed on a short-term leasing basis,” Mr McGrath added.
Other ideas have been floated such as building a regional stadium for use by GAA, rugby and soccer as well as hosting concerts, something similar to Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork. The site’s proximity to the M6 motorway also offers potential for a park-and-ride shuttle service to the city centre. According to Galway Bay FM, County Council Chief Executive Kevin Kelly said a masterplan will be put in place this year outlining the future of the site. It’s unlikely this will include any aviation activity but a public consultation is likely to form part of the statutory process once the plan is drawn up. Will we lose Galway Airport forever? Hopefully not, but it looks increasingly likely. Let’s hope Waterford does not end up in the same position.
Photos by Alan Dwyer