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Fine Gael Transport Spokesperson, Mr Fergus O’ Dowd TD, and Fine Gael Delegation Visits Ireland West Airport Knock

Fine Gael Outline Support for Airport’s Development as International Air Access Hub for the West and North West Region Delegation Calls For Ireland West Knock’s Inclusion In National and Regional Transport and Aviation Policy Particularly on Issue of Hub Connectivity for the Region

Upon the invitation of Mr. John O’Mahony, TD, Fine Gael’s Spokesperson on Transport, Mr. Fergus O’Dowd TD along with senior members of Fine Gael including Mr. Denis Naughten, TD; Mr. Frank Feighan, TD, as well as local County Councillors, visited Ireland West Airport Knock on Thursday 15th November 2007. This delegation was briefed by Ireland West Knock’s Board member, Monsignor Joseph Quinn, Group MD, Mr. Liam Scollan, CEO, Mr. Robert Grealis, and Director of Business Partnerships, Enda Candon on developments at the Airport as well as pertinent transport and aviation issues.
Following a tour of the Airport and a briefing of the new infrastructural projects being developed and planned, the group held a detailed discussion on a range of transport issues. These included:-The need for continued recognition by all in Government and the local authorities, the regulatory and development (including enterprise and tourism) bodies, of Ireland West Knock’s role as the international airport serving the West and North West region; The support required to enable the Airport’s development of flight connections to major US and European hubs such as CDG, Heathrow, New York etc. as well as increased connectivity to Dublin as a transport hub. Whilst acknowledging the Airport’s own self-driven initiatives to gain US transatlantic links ahead of Open Skies, it was highlighted in particular the need for an agreed approach to support regional hub access particular in the case of the West and North West region where the market is failing to provide these services on a purely commercial basis; The need for an cohesive approach to the development of an integrated ground transport solution for the West and North West including spur connectivity to the Western Rail Corridor, investment in the national and regional roads network and the continuing development of bus transportation to the main regional gateway cities and towns; Support for the Airport’s planned business park development and the establishment of a Strategic Development Zone to enable enterprise and employment growth as well as to facilitate a high level of inward investment; The potential that exists to develop the West and North West region as a key ‘Pilgrimage and Christian Heritage’ destination for international visitors which would bring significant sustainable economic and tourism growth and help differentiate the region in the increasingly competitive global tourism market.
Quote: Mr. Fergus O’Dowd TD: “We acknowledge Ireland West Airport Knock’s position as a vital piece of infrastructure for the West and North West Region and commend its Board, management and staff for their hard work, drive and initiative which has yielded huge growth in flight choices and employment as well as yielded significant economic dividends for the region. We call for continued support for the Airport and we will ensure that Ireland West Airport Knock is on our agenda when it comes to national and regional transport and aviation policy making. In particular we will seek to ensure that this Airport and region is not forgotten when it comes to supports for flight connectivity to European and US hubs. We also welcome the proposed development of a Strategic Development Zone and we will support the development of an integrated approach to ground transport connections to this Airport.”
Mr. Liam Scollan, Group MD, Ireland West Airport Knock commented: “We thank Fergus O’Dowd, John O’Mahony and the other members of Fine Gael who have taken the time to visit with us to gain an understanding of our Airport’s development plans and the national and regional transport and aviation issues which are of importance to us and the region we serve. We are confident that they fully understand that this Airport, not unlike other international airports serving Ireland’s regions, has a vital role to play in the continued economic, infrastructural and tourism development for this region.”