Published on April 19th, 2021 | by Alan Dwyer0
Government Announce €11m in Capital Funding for Regional Airports
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton T.D., has today announced the allocation of over €11 million in Exchequer funding to regional airports. Almost €4.8 million has been allocated to the airports of Donegal, Ireland West (Knock) and Kerry under the Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025 and over €6.3 million has been allocated to Shannon Airport under the COVID-19 Regional State Airports Programme 2021. Cork Airport is also eligible for support under the COVID-19 Regional State Airports Programme 2021. However, the Minister has advised that funding for the Runway Overlay Project at Cork is currently being assessed by the Department and given the costs involved, this project is also subject to appraisal under the Public Spending Code. It is hoped that this will be approved in the coming weeks.
Commenting on the allocations, Minister of State Naughton said, “I am delighted to be approving these capital allocations in what has been an incredibly difficult year on our regional airports. This funding represents a strong commitment by Government to help Ireland’s regional airports remain financially sustainable as they plan to move beyond the largest exogenous shock that the sector has ever faced. I am pleased to say that this year’s funding has also taken climate objectives into account for the first time, representing an important step in the process towards the ‘greening’ of Irish Airports. I am confident that today’s allocations, coupled with the impending funding to address the impacts of Covid, will help airports regain their foothold in the aviation market when recovery begins.”
Each airport received the amount of funding requested for their respective projects. Many of the projects being supported incorporate valuable climate benefits, such as the replacement of vehicles with more efficient, low emission equivalents and the replacement of airfield and external lighting with LED. Other projects funded include new safety and security systems that incorporate more energy efficient components, as well as components that are recyclable at the end of their service life. Airports eligible for funding under the Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025 and the COVID-19 Regional State Airports Programme 2021 will also be eligible to apply for operational grant-aid, targeted at vital safety and security related operational expenses later this year. Almost €20 million is available during 2021 for air traffic control, fire services and security related expenses which will help ensure that airports can continue to remain compliant with regulatory requirements in these areas. Invitations to apply for operational aid will issue to airports towards the latter half of the year and, following the conclusion of an approval process, payments are expected to be made during December.
In addition to supports under these two Programmes, further invitations for funding have recently issued to eligible airports under a separate COVID-19 Irish Airports Scheme, which was recently approved by the European Commission. The Scheme, which has an overall budget of €26m, includes compensation of €20 million for State airports (Dublin, Cork and Shannon) in light of Covid impacts in 2020. This funding will provide airports with the flexibility to roll out route incentives/charge rebates, in consultation with airlines, with a view to supporting recovery and growth of connectivity when circumstances allow.
As part of this EU approved scheme, up to €6 million is also being made available to private regional airports that provide connectivity (Ireland West, Kerry and Donegal) under the EU’s ‘Temporary Framework for State Aid Measures to Support the Economy in the Current Covid-19 Outbreak’.