GALWAY City Council this week pledged funding to help keep Galway Airport operating but it is claimed that it isn’t going to compete with Shannon in the foreseeable future.
Galway Chamber is the majority shareholder in the Carnmore facility and its CEO, Michael Coyle, said that while he believes the airport has a future, it won’t be cutting across Shannon.
“We’re trying to buy time, retain it as a licensed aerodrome, we don’t see it competing in any way, shape or form, with Shannon or Knock.”
While Galway currently has no scheduled services run by airlines, it is still used on a certain scale.
“It received no subsidy in 2012 but still managed to survive with small charter flights, private aircraft, private company aircraft and the Air Corps using it for emergency air ambulance services and training and so on.”
He said the last few years have been tough for Galway. “It was in receipt of a PSO (public service obligation funding) on the Galway-Dublin route but there was always a recognition by the airport and stakeholders that when the road infrastructure improved that PSO was likely to go and it did go. What we weren’t expecting was that Galway as a regional airport would be eliminated from the pool of funds allocated by the Department of Transport for regional airports. We wouldn’t have anticipated that would go at the same time as the PSO, so we were hit by a double whammy.”
This week, Galway City Council agreed to provide €50,000 in funding to the airport and Galway County Council is to provide a similar amount.
Mr Coyle said that keeping the airport open makes sense in the long term.
“The Government has invested a very significant level of taxpayers’ money in the technical infrastructure at Galway Airport.
“In Transport 21 alone it provided five or six million in capital, which has been invested in technical infrastructure, resurfacing the runway, runway lighting, all of that. A few years after that investment are they going to walk away from it because of a relatively small level of funding?”