Thursday, 16 February 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
47. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the occupation of Galway City Airport; and his further views that a decision to cut the subsidy to the airport precipitated a crisis for the airport and its workers. [8865/12]
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I announced in June 2011 that I had secured Government approval for additional funding to be made available to all six regional airports in 2011, including Galway Airport. At that time the Government also decided that it would not be able to provide operational or capital funding to Galway or Sligo Airports from 2012 onwards. This was in line with the recommendations of the Value for Money Review of Expenditure on the Regional Airports Programme.
These decisions were based on the need to ensure the most effective use of scarce Exchequer resources to support the regional airports network serving the Irish public, both in terms of business and tourism. The aim being to ensure that Ireland has a sufficient network of regional airports, while taking into account significant improvement in road networks, shorter and more reliable journey times by road and rail and the collapse in passengers flying domestically.
In making that announcement, I encouraged Galway and Sligo Airports, as privately owned entities, to use the opportunity provided by the additional funding in 2011 to engage with various parties, including business interests, investors and local authorities, to secure their ongoing viability.
In December 2011, a total of over €5 million was allocated to the six regional airports to cover a portion of their operating costs incurred in 2011. This included a subvention of over €2 million to Galway Airport.
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