· Growth in UK Schedules Routes Support Increase in Annual Passenger Traffic to 629,000
Notwithstanding massive challenges within the aviation industry in the last twelve months, Ireland West Airport Knock’s latest traffic figures prove that 2008 was its busiest year yet. In 2008, the annual number of passengers using Ireland West Knock increased by over 73,000 passengers to 629,000 - an increase of 13% on 2007. The Airport predicts that the current economic conditions will continue to influence travel patterns in 2009 but that due to its expanded network of 10 scheduled destinations in the UK and Ireland and the introduction of new charter holiday operators, the Airport expects to grow passenger levels by a modest 1% - 3% in 2009.
· New Operators and Business Recouped on European Charter Flights for 2009
Growth in 2008 stems from Ireland West Airport Knock’s scheduled route development throughout the year, with the addition of two new scheduled services to the UK including Glasgow International with bmibaby and a daily service to Liverpool with Ryanair. In 2009, Ireland West Airport Knock will continue to build on the range of services provided at the Airport with the introduction by Aer Lingus of a London Gatwick service commencing in April 2009 as well introducing new Thomas Cook tour operator brands, Panorama and Sunworld, to the Airport’s tour operator portfolio in summer 2009 when they commence a holiday charter programme to Faro, Portugal. The Airport will offer 13 European sun, ski and pilgrimage destinations in 2009 with tour operators and travel partners Concorde Travel, Falcon JWT, Sunway, Joe Walsh Tours, PC Promotions, Panorama and Sunworld, and build on its winter ski programme with Topflight. New flights and holidays are also available with Swiss Tour Operator Falcontravel Travelhouse to Zurich in Switzerland bookable through local travel agents.
· New €5.5 million Terminal Extension and €3.6 Million CAT II Instrument Landing System & Runway Safety Projects to be completed in spring 2009
This year 2009 will be an exciting year for Ireland West Airport Knock with the completion of a number of significant civil and building projects at the Airport. The implementation of Category II Instrumentation Landing Systems (CAT II ILS) will enhance the reliability of the Airport in poor weather and low visibility conditions and is due for completion in February 2009. The new €5.5 million terminal extension will be complete in March 2009, doubling the existing check-in area, security screening and departures lounges while offering new retail, catering and other facilities for passengers to enjoy. Later in the year, a substantial extension to the apron (aircraft parking area) is planned to meet increased passenger and aircraft traffic, whilst enhancements and expansions to the car parks and road access are designed to accommodate the new Bus Éireann scheduled services to be introduced early in 2009. All these developments are part of Ireland West Airport Knock’s Vision 2020 - a €46 million capital investment programme which underpins the Airport’s goal of developing new short, medium and long haul international air routes and growing annual passenger numbers to over two million by 2020. 2009 will become a milestone year towards completing this strategy.
Robert Grealis, CEO, Ireland West Airport Knock said: “Although 2008 was our busiest year ever, without doubt, 2009 will be a challenge for everyone across the country and particularly for those working in the aviation industry. We are committed to continuing to strive for growth whilst remaining focussed on overcoming the difficult economic conditions we face in 2009. More than ever we need the support of key stakeholders at regional and national level to aid us in this drive as we continue to develop new route opportunities and expand the Airport facilities to enhance passenger services and make Ireland West Airport Knock an even more attractive facility for airlines and passengers alike. As the international gateway for the West and North West, the Airport will support an estimated regional tourism spend of €70 million stemming from our UK tourist traffic in 2009.”
The Airport wishes to thank sincerely all of its staff, customers, tour operators and airlines for their loyalty and business in 2008. For 2009, we advise customers to watch this space for some more exciting new developments to come!