Decision imminent on Waterford airport

A decision on the future of Waterford Airport is "near completion", according to the Department of Transport.

The department said Transport Minister Shane Ross "would go to Government on the matter shortly" as calls grow locally for a decision on financing the airport, which has been without commercial flights since mid-2016.

Management has submitted a proposal to extend the runway, which it says would considerably enhance the airport’s commercial appeal and attract new carriers.

Mr Ross, who commissioned EY to review the airport's future, has warned that although the Government wants Waterford Airport “functioning, commercial and viable”, it did not want "to create a white elephant”.

EY's report was provided to airport management last October, which was then was invited to provide any additional proposals "which might strengthen the airport's position in relation to the runway", Mr Ross said.

Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford, Mary Butler told the Dáil that the local proposal requests €5m from the Government, which will be matched by €5m from investors and €2m from local authorities in the south-east, but that a decision had to be made.

Minister of state at the department Brendan Griffin said he would request an "immediate" response from Mr Ross.

The regional airport saw proposed routes to Luton, Birmingham, and Manchester by Aer Southeast fail to materialise in 2017, as the airline failed to secure the required licence.

Waterford City and County Council chief executive Michael Walsh told councillors recently if the runway extension was given the green light and funding granted by the Government, the airport could be fully operational by the spring of 2020.

Ms Butler said a decision was now needed one way or the other:

"There are signs that the decision may be a positive one for Waterford, but the time has come for a definitive decision. Investors and local authorities need certainty and clarity.

"It cannot be understated just how hugely beneficial a viable commercial Waterford Airport would be to the south-east region."

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