Published on April 26th, 2018 | by Mark Dwyer0
Is this the end for Waterford Airport?
Back in December the government approved emergency funding of €375,000 for Waterford Airport. The funding was to keep the airport operational for six months to 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. As we approach the end of the six months, a commercial air service looks less and less likely. In late February Aer Southeast made a post on their Facebook page saying they were planning on beginning flights ‘this year’ with an update promised in the ‘coming days’.
Speaking at the time, Minister of State John Halligan said “This emergency funding was intended to give the airport management and board some space to secure a new commercial carrier and also to progress talks with private investors on a runway extension, which is crucial for Waterford Airport 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. But so much hinges on whether a viable carrier service can be secured.”
Conor McCarthy, founder of Dublin Aerospace and a former executive with Ryanair, said the Airport “was fine when we had a dysfunctional road transport network”. However, the absence of a runway capable of catering for jet-engined aircraft effectively rules Waterford out of servicing a London slot “when the competition are all flying fast jets such as the Airbus 320″. He added “Waterford, without jet capability, is not going to have any possibility of success. It’s been tried and tested and clearly doesn’t work. A lot of the core infrastructure is there but you still need significant investment to get a 2,500m by 40m runway operational. The Government can’t/won’t do that on its own and that’s the challenge.” But he also disclaimed: “Even with that done, you still have no guarantees you will attract an airline.”
It’s estimated that an upgraded runway would cost between €10-€12 million and even then there would be no guarantee that a scheduled service could be secured. The Airport remains without a Chief Executive since the departure of Desmond O’Flynn in mid-January.