Waterford Airport welcomes capital investment of €27.5 million
Minister for Transport Martin Cullen (left) and Mr Nicky Fewer, Chairman, Waterford Airport, celebrate the announcement of capital investment in Waterford Airport.
The injection of capital grants totalling €22.3 million announced by the Minister for Transport, Martin Cullen TD, will transform Waterford Airport and give a major boost to the economy of the city and the entire Southeast region, according to Waterford Airport Chairman, Nicky Fewer.
The Department of Transport grants, which will be supplemented by funding from the airport company, will allow the airport to complete its €27.5 million development plan, including an extension of the runway to 1,850 metres, facilitating the operation of jet aircraft from Waterford.
According to Graham Doyle, Chief Executive of Waterford Airport, “The extended runway, which we hope to have in place by summer 2009, will allow the airport to handle large jet aircraft. This will give us the opportunity to attract airlines offering European city breaks and holiday charters, as well as private jet business and perhaps cargo services in the future.”
The Department of Transport investment will allow the airport to fund the extension and upgrading of the terminal building to provide enhanced passenger facilities and improved services for the growing number of businesses located at the airport. The airport also plans to significantly upgrade aerodrome safety, security, fire-fighting, navigation and lighting facilities and to extend the apron area to allow for the parking of a number of large aircraft as well as executive jets.
Mr Doyle said: “With various access infrastructure improvements coming online over the next two years dovetailing with our development programme, we believe we can take Waterford Airport to the next level and provide a very exciting piece of infrastructure for the benefit of the travelling public in the southeast.
“We’ve had a very challenging few months providing detailed support for our funding case to the Department’s consultants and in securing new routes for summer 2007. I would like to thank the staff at the airport for their support over this period and for their continued commitment. I would particularly mention the contribution of Aidan Power, Airport General Manager, in presenting the technical case to the Department of Transport and its consultants.”
“The real work now starts!”
Over the coming months the airport will be carrying out some temporary works on the terminal building to handle significant additional passenger throughput expected beyond next May. During this period, management will engage in detailed planning and design work in relation to the various projects for which funding has been granted. The airport will also begin the process of raising debt and equity funding of between €5 million to €6 million to enable drawdown of the Department of Transport grants, which require between 10 per cent and 25 per cent - depending on the nature of particular projects - to be funded directly by the airport.
Said Mr Fewer: “As chairman of the airport company, I am particularly pleased to welcome this significantly positive news from Minister Cullen. The Minister has always advocated the importance of an efficient regional airport network and recognised the great potential for air infrastructure serving the southeast.
“The new investment will allow Waterford airport to grow and develop to meet the needs of the people of Waterford city and the southeast region, who have always supported us in times when the future did not look nearly as promising as it now does – without our passengers we would have no business. I am excited by the provision of new services and the improvement of facilities which this funding makes possible.
“I look forward to an era of unprecedented growth and development at the airport and I believe that this vital piece of infrastructure will open up the region to a wide range of new business, leisure and cultural opportunities.”
Mr. Fewer paid tribute to Graham Doyle for his success in securing the Department of Transport funding and his contribution to the airport since taking up the chief executive role in September 2006. The chairman also acknowledged the contribution of the airport staff, his fellow Board members and the members of the local authorities in the region whose continued support for the airport will be critical over the next two years.
“I want to also acknowledge the enormous contribution of Aer Arann to enabling the airport to get to where it now is,” added Mr Fewer. “Pádraig Ó Céidigh and his team at Aer Arann came to Waterford at a time when it looked like the airport had an uncertain future. They have since extended the service they provide and have plans to continue to grow their operations here.”
In May, Aer Arann introduced a new Birmingham service and increased the frequency on its existing services to London Luton and to Manchester and, with its Lorient service, brought to four the number of destinations accessed directly from Waterford.