Ensuring the viability of Knock Airport is vital to the economic recovery of Mayo and the North West when we exit Covid-19 restrictions.
I welcome the supports announced by the government and I look forward to having the opportunity to analyse the details of the package.
I want to acknowledge the staff and particularly the 43 workers who were made redundant due to a collapse in revenue and passenger numbers due to Covid. A further 100 workers have been temporarily laid-off.
The airport supports a further 3,000 jobs and it is vital that these are protected.
We must use the EU state aid temporary framework as an opportunity to target funding to ensure the viability of IWAK.
It is imperative that we submit a strong capital funding application to lever EU funding. As a region in transition, we are eligible for financial support for key strategic infrastructure projects such as IWAK and the Western Rail Corridor.
Knock is the largest airport categorised as a regional airport. It is the fourth largest airport in the state. It serves 1.2 million people in the North West.
2020 was forecast to be another record-breaking year with a million passengers.
Knock Airport is a success story in terms of regional development. We need to make sure that progress is maintained and built upon.
The supports allocated need to take into account the scale and importance of Knock Airport.
Covid-19 has decimated the airport with passenger numbers collapsing by 90 percent. The airport is on its knees, but we need to remember the importance and the successes of the airport before Covid hit.
What Knock Airport needs now is functioning testing for arriving passengers before Christmas to ensure that family and friends can return home safely in December and people can travel on to low-risk routes.
These tests need to be affordable to make sure it does not push it out of the reach of some people or dampen travel.