From Castlebar - County Mayo -
Busy Year Expected in 2008
By Annette Kearney
14, Jan 2008 - 10:14
Challenging 2007 But Ireland West Airport Knock Positioned For Busiest Year Yet Expected in 2008
- Annual Passenger Numbers Expected to Grow by a Quarter in 2008 to Almost 700,000
- Record Christmas Traffic as Passenger Numbers Increased to 38,000 in December 2007
- 190,000 UK Tourists to Generate €67mln spend in region in 2008
- 2008 Capital Investment of Over €20 million to see Expansion of Terminal Building, Apron Extension, Upgrade to Cat II Landing Systems and Enhancements to Airfield Safety
- Car Parking Facilities to be Expanded and Bus Éireann Connections Introduced
December and Christmas 2007 was the busiest ever for Ireland West Airport Knock with 38,000 passengers using the Airport’s flight services during the period and this trend is set to continue with the Airport predicting that 2008 will be a record-breaking year having set ambitious targets to grow annual passenger numbers to almost 700,000. This projected passenger growth of 24% over last year, stems from Ireland West Airport Knock’s route development work in 2007 when it introduced six additional new scheduled services, more than doubling the five scheduled routes in 2006.
The growth is expected to come from the expansion of the Airport’s UK route network as well as the continued development of its European charter holiday business which will generate over 90,000 passengers in 2008. UK passenger numbers are expected to surpass over half a million and will generate a projected UK tourism spend of almost €67million for the West and North West Region of Ireland. The introduction of scheduled transatlantic services to New York and Boston was a significant step forward and boost for the Airport and region in 2007. Both routes proved to have very satisfactory passenger demands with each reaching very high load factors (i.e. percentage of aircraft seats booked) of between 80% and 85%. Having carried over 30,000 US passengers for the summer 2007 season, the Airport is determined to build on this positive experience and passenger demand and is currently carrying out development work for the continuation of US services for 2008 which it will announce in due course.
Robert Grealis, CEO, Ireland West Airport Knock said: “The Airport faced significant challenges at the outset of 2007 having lost almost a quarter of its annual passengers due to the withdrawal of our twice daily services to London Gatwick by carriers easyJet and Ryanair in late 2006. The loss of these routes has had a significant impact in 2007 but was minimised and offset with the development of scheduled services to East Midlands and Bristol with Ryanair and the welcome re-introduction of a six-times-a-week service to London Gatwick with XL.com in December. Following five consecutive years of double digit growth, our overall passenger numbers for 2007 were 567,000, a decline of 9% on the previous year. However, our new routes together with the good news that air carrier bmibaby will start a new scheduled route to Glasgow International Airport in February, we are projecting that passenger volumes in 2008 will increase by a quarter to almost 700,000, which will be the busiest year ever in the history of the Airport. We will employ approximately 200 people in the peak summer season with an additional estimation of 1,100 jobs being generated in spin off businesses. Naturally this volume of passengers will put increasing strain on our Airport facilities and we are making every effort to enhance, expand and build the facilities and services to ensure we remain the number one international airport of choice serving the West and North West of Ireland.”
The Airport will continue the implementation of its €46million infrastructural investment programme with over €20 million of spend anticipated for 2008. Work will commence on a number of significant civil and building projects in this year. A substantial extension to the apron (aircraft parking area) will see this more than double in size to meet passenger demands. The implementation of Category II Instrumentation Landing Systems (CAT II ILS), which will enhance the reliability of the Airport in poor weather and low visibility conditions, is due for completion at the end of the summer along with an extension to the Runway Ends Safety Areas (RESAs) and runway turnpad. The proposed extension to the terminal building, for which planning has been granted by Mayo County Council but which is currently subject to an appeal to An Bord Pleanála, is hoped to commence in the spring and will double the existing check-in area and departures lounges. Enhancements and expansions to the car parks and road access are also planned to accommodate the new Bus Éireann scheduled bus services to be introduced shortly.
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