Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
999. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will introduce supports for regional airports in view of the potential financial impact Covid-19 will have on their ability to operate post-Covid-19 and the rural and economic importance of these airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6058/20]
Since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, my Department has been in ongoing contact with the regional airports.
A Government funded PSO air service has allowed Kerry and Donegal airports to remain open, thereby helping to facilitate essential travel between these airports and Dublin. While Knock airport took the difficult decision to close at the end of March, staff who were temporarily laid off were able to avail of the Covid Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Like other SMEs, regional airports could also apply for support under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.
I recognise the importance of these airports to the regions they serve and that is reflected in Project Ireland 2040. The Government’s commitment to regional airports is underpinned by long term planning and investment strategies and a multi-annual capital provision of €72m under the National Development Plan to 2027.
This investment is managed through the Regional Airports Programme, which provides both capital and operational aid to these airports on an annual basis.
As this current year progresses, eligible airports can apply for funding towards safety and security related projects and activities. The budget for the Regional Airports Programme for 2020 is almost €23m, which includes over €7.2m for the PSO services.
More generally, the Department continues to reflect on the level of supports that may be required to enable a rapid recovery of the aviation sector from Covid-19. It is within this context that a new Regional Airports Programme is being prepared for the period 2020 to 2024. The new Programme will take account of priorities for recovery across the airport sector.