The government has agreed a revised €80 million funding package for Irish aviation. In recognition of the very difficult winter season being faced by the aviation sector the government has decided to provide an extra €48 million in supports for 2021, in addition to those announced in Budget 2021.
The Department of Transport will provide further operational and capital funding supports of €22m for Cork and Shannon Airport, which is in addition to the €10m in capital funding announced in Budget 2021.
For the smaller regional airports of Knock, Kerry and Donegal, in addition to the €21m in funding available under the Regional Airports Programme for 2021, further operational support of €6m will be made available.
The funding package will also include an Airport Charges Rebate Scheme for January to March 2021, subject to State Aid approval from the EU Commission. This is one of the recommendations made by the Task Force for Aviation Recovery and, at an estimated cost of €20m, will support the retention of core connectivity through the Winter season.
Commenting on the decision Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD said:
"The government is fully alert to the devastating impact of the global pandemic on international travel and values the critical role that Aviation plays in the Irish economy. It is expected that it may be some time before it is possible to permit a large scale return to air travel, but we remain committed to ensuring that the aviation sector can maintain the necessary core capability to retain strategic connectivity and to quickly rebound when circumstances allow.
"In addition to the general COVID-19 supports, such as the wage support scheme, and targeted aviation funding already committed in Budget 2021, I welcome the fact that the government today approved this department’s proposal for an additional €48 m funding for the sector, focusing in particular on Cork and Shannon and our smaller regional airports which are important contributors to the economics of their regions.
"Government has also decided that a study should be undertaken to assess the potential for a rail link from Shannon Airport and Shannon town to the Dublin Ennis rail line."
Minister of State, Hildegarde Naughton TD said:
"It goes without saying that 2020 has been a difficult one for the aviation sector in its entirety, both for those employed directly and for businesses who rely on the sector, pilots and cabin crew, the staff at our airports, engineers, the groundhandling crew, the fueling companies, disability service handlers and catering staff.
"Today’s decision to provide additional supports to our airports further demonstrates the government’s intention to protect and preserve Ireland’s strategic connectivity. This year and into 2021 the State will have provided in excess of €180m in supports for the aviation sector. The funding package being announced today will ensure that our regional airports can maintain the necessary core capability to conserve strategic connectivity and to quickly rebound when circumstances allow."
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD said:
"Today’s decision by Government is an acknowledgement of the immense challenges that the Aviation Sector has faced since COVID-19 arrived at our shores. Ireland is an open and global economy and it is vital for our economic progress that we have a strong Aviation Sector. This funding is in addition to the €31 million I announced on Budget Day last month and represents an investment in a sector that is strategically important for Ireland’s recovery. It is also important from the point of view of balanced regional development. The Government decision today will mean an extra €13.7 million for Cork Airport, an extra €8.4 million for Shannon Airport and a further €6 million shared between Ireland West Airport Knock, Kerry and Donegal Airports. The €20 million allocated to the Airports Charges Rebate Scheme will have a positive impact on all airports in the country."