€6.3m in funding has been allocated to Shannon Airport under the COVID-19 Regional State Airports Programme 2021.
Capital investment in the areas of safety, security and sustainability will be provided to Shannon Airport as part of the €6,327,000 allocation.
On Monday morning, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD (FG) announced that over €11m in exchequer funding would be provided to regional airports. The Regional Airports Programme 2021 to 2025 saw Ireland West (Knock) receive €2,185,983, Kerry get €1,718,685 and €876,525 for Donegal.
Each airport received the amount of funding requested for respective projects, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport stated. 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 which incorporate more energy efficient components, as well as components that are recyclable at the end of their service life.
Climate objectives have been taken into account for the first time as part of the funding, Naughton confirmed. This she outlined represented “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”.
According to the Galway West TD, the funding forms “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”.
An application for funding for a significant overlay project at Cork Airport is currently being assessed by the Department.
Shannon Airport 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. 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.
Shannon Group have welcomed the announcement. CEO, Mary Considine stated, “As we continue to manage our way through the COVID-19 crisis, the confirmation that Shannon Airport’s application to the COVID-19 Regional State Airports Programme 2021, first announced last November, has been approved is very welcome. Following an extremely difficult year for aviation and Shannon Airport, these funds will assist us to deliver a range of critical safety and security capital projects, including, security equipment upgrades, and airfield rehabilitation works.”
Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) pointed to the signing of the Digital Green Certificate by Ireland and other EU states as a sign of hope for air travel. He stated that the need for a policy overhaul remains within aviation in Ireland.
Deputy Crowe stated, “Funding alone, though, won’t be enough to sustain Shannon Airport and protect its medium to long term future”. He added, “The announcement two weeks ago that Ryanair will operate a scheduled Shannon to Corfu is very welcome and I hope this, along with today’s announcement, paves the way for Ryanair, Aer Lingus and other airlines to commit to scheduled services this summer and beyond from our airport.Aviation in the post-Covid period must be more regionally balanced than it has been heretofore.”