Wednesday, 19 January 2022
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
268. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider a proposal by a group (details supplied) for it to be included permanently under the Regional Airports Programme as opposed to temporary inclusion for Covid-19 related reasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2064/22]
The Regional Airports Programme 2021 to 2025 supports Ireland’s smallest airports i.e. those that provide connectivity and handle less than 1 million annual passengers. In addition to targeting funding at safety and security projects and activities, the programme encourages airports to reduce emissions and build climate resilience. As the Deputy will be aware, by virtue of their size and passenger numbers, Shannon and Cork Airports have not in the past been eligible for funding under this Programme.
However, in light of the impacts of Covid-19 and taking account of the recommendations of the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery, the Government provided both Shannon and Cork airports with access to capital and operational supports in 2021 under a one-year Covid-19 Regional State Airports Programme. This Programme mirrored the focus, including the sustainability objectives, of the Regional Airports Programme. Shannon Airport was allocated almost €11.9m in funding under this Programme in 2021.
This funding was in addition to the provision of an allocation of capital funding to Shannon Airport of almost €6.3m for a Hold Baggage Screening project and an Embankments project in 2021. An additional €5.5m was also provided to Shannon Airport under the Department's Covid Supplementary Support Scheme to Irish airports. This funding will provide Shannon Airport with flexibility to roll out route incentives/charge rebates, in consultation with airlines, with a view to supporting recovery and growth of connectivity.
In 2022, due to suppressed passenger numbers in 2020 and 2021 Shannon Airport has now become eligible for funding under the Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025. This year, funding of €36 million is available under this Programme, supporting Shannon Airport and the other eligible regional airports of Cork, Ireland West, Donegal and Kerry. This budget allocation represents a significant increase in funding available under the Programme in 2022, which takes account of the broadening of the Programme to include both Shannon and Cork Airports.
Beyond 2022, Shannon Airport will only remain eligible for funding under the Regional Airports Programme while annual passenger numbers, in the preceding two years, remain suppressed under 1 million. However the aviation supports totaling over €23.6m provided to Shannon Airport in 2021 is a clear indication of the importance Government attaches to Shannon Airport being well positioned to weather the current crisis and for recovery and growth into the future. As was the case in 2021, Government will continue to keep Aviation Supports under review in 2022.