Transport Minister, Martin Cullen, TD today (Thursday, 19 April 2007) visited County Mayo where he had meetings with the Board of Ireland West Airport Knock and representatives from the West on Track group. The Minister also viewed the work in progress on the N5 Charlestown Bypass.
The Minister congratulated the Board of Ireland West Airport Knock on its achievements to date and its commitment and vision to drive forward towards even greater business success. Ongoing Exchequer support for Ireland West Airport Knock has contributed greatly to the growth in business at the airport over recent years. In February 2007, Minister Cullen announced a capital grant allocation of €27 million for the airport, including €17 million for an apron (i.e. an aircraft parking area). Passenger numbers have increased by over 100% within the past 3 years at the airport, mostly on UK routes.
Minister Cullen said: "Ireland West Airport Knock has grown from strength to strength. The seven regular scheduled services, as well as the number of charter flights that it provides, offer great choice to the people of the west and north west regions. The number of passengers who used the airport last year was over 630,000 almost 20% more than in 2005. You have now reached another exciting phase in expanding the airport, as you prepare for the inaugural Flyglobespan flights to New York and Boston next month. This venture truly puts Knock airport on the map as a key strategic aviation facility."
Minister Cullen also met with representatives of the West on Track community-based group and assured them that the Western Rail Corridor is being progressed as planned under the Government's investment programme for transport, Transport 21. He said that the Government is committed to provide for the phased re-opening of the line, in tandem with the recommendations of the report by the Expert Working Group on the Western Rail Corridor chaired by Mr Pat McCann.
The phased re-opening is outlined as follows:
Ennis to Athenry to be completed in 2008 with a Galway (to Athenry) Commuter Rail Service in 2009
Athenry to Tuam to be completed in 2011
Tuam to Claremorris to be completed in 2014
Iarnród Éireann are also undertaking work to preserve the rail alignment on the Claremorris to Collooney section.
The Minister added: "It is my belief that this schedule of work makes practical sense, taking account of the management of Iarnród Éireann's resources in delivering on its investment programme under Transport 21 generally, and from the Exchequer perspective - of the Transport 21 capital envelope."
Minister Cullen saw first hand, the work underway on the N5 Charlestown Bypass. This 18 kms road project, which commenced in 2006 is on schedule and is due to be completed before the summer of next year. The Minister also said that the CPO and the Environmental Impact Study for Phase 2 of the N26 Ballina to Bohola road project is expected to be published in the coming weeks.
Issued by, Michelle Hoctor, 087 8563070
Veronica Scanlan, 087 6430622