Published on February 4th, 2021 | by Alan Dwyer0
Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025 Published
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD, has announced the publication of a new Regional Airports Programme for the period 2021 to 2025. This year, Donegal Airport, Kerry Airport and Ireland West Airport (Knock) will be eligible to apply for funding under the programme, which has a budget of €21.3 million in 2021. The Programme, which is part of the Project Ireland 2040, provides a framework for supporting airports that deliver international connectivity to the regions. Its focus is to help Ireland’s smallest airports, those that handle less than 1 million annual passengers, to maintain regulatory compliance in the areas of safety and security.
Announcing the publication of the Programme, Minister Naughton said, “The aviation industry and in particular airports have been acutely impacted by Covid-19. Government has recognised this and is committed to supporting airports while passenger numbers remain low and activity is suppressed. This new programme, which will greatly assist in maintaining connectivity in our regional airports, has a budget of €21.3 million in 2021. I am also pleased to say that, for the first time, the Programme will take account of climate objectives and support the ‘greening’ of Irish airports. Funding will be available to encourage airports to reduce emissions and to build resilience against the likely impacts of climate change. I would like all our airports to achieve carbon neutrality over the next five years as part of our national efforts to combat climate change. In addition to this Programme, in light of the impacts of Covid-19 and taking into account the recommendations of the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery, €32.1m is also being provided to Cork and Shannon airports in 2021. These airports will receive capital and operational supports under grant schemes that mirror the provisions of the Regional Airports Programme.”
Commenting on the announcement, Arthur French, Chairman at Ireland West Airport, said, “The extension of the Regional Airports Programme is positive news for the airport and regional Ireland as the supports provided, as part of the programme, are critical for the ongoing sustainability of the airport. We also welcome the news that the Department of Transport is engaging with the European Commission to advance further schemes, in line with the package of supports for Irish Aviation that were announced by Government in November 2020, to address some of the liquidity issues and damage caused to date from Covid-19. We will continue to work with the Department to support the airport in the critical position it continues to find itself in as we prepare for another very challenging year for the aviation sector in 2021.”
The Programme provides both capital and operational support to airports and is in line with State aid rules. It also provides funding for contracted daily flights under an existing Public Service Obligation. The routes currently being served are Donegal-Dublin and Kerry-Dublin. The Department of Transport will continue to engage with the European Commission to advance further schemes, in line with the package of supports for Irish Aviation that were announced by Government in November 2020. A budget of €26m has been allocated to these new schemes, which will help all airports that deliver connectivity – Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Knock, Kerry and Donegal – to address some of the liquidity issues and damage caused to date from Covid-19.
The Department will continue to engage with the Commission with a view to getting approval for these schemes as early as possible in 2021.