Waterford Airport celebrates 21st anniversary

Waterford Airport celebrated the 21st anniversary of the first international scheduled air service from the southeast of Ireland last weekend.

Operated by Ryanair with a twin turbo prop aircraft with capacity for 15 passengers, the Waterford-London Gatwick service began on Monday, July 8, 1985. The 90-minute service left Waterford at 8.30am with the return flight leaving Gatwick at 7pm. In the first week of the new service from the then recently-established airline, bookings had exceeded the expected level by some 40%.

Congratulating Waterford Airport on reaching the important milestone, Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Transport, said that regional airports are “tremendously important drivers of economic activity and key tools in helping achieve balanced regional development”.

“It is airports like Waterford and the others in the regional network that help spread tourism and inward investment more evenly throughout the country. Tremendous credit is due to those who have had the vision and work ethic to drive these airports forward since the early 1980s. In Waterford’s case, Nicky Fewer and his board are rightly very ambitious for the airport as are the local authorities and those who promote Waterford as a destination for both visitors and investors.”

Speaking as 21 local schoolchildren enjoyed a special behind-the-scenes look at the airport as part of the celebrations, Nicky Fewer, Chairman, Waterford Airport said that the facility is enjoying its best ever passenger numbers on Aer Arann services to London Luton, Manchester and Lorient in northwest France with the Pilot Training College (Ireland) and Blue Star Helicopters training the pilots of tomorrow at the airport where the International Academy of Travel trains flight crew and air-based search and rescue services are provided by CHC Helicopter Corporation on behalf of Irish Coast Guard.

“It’s been a long and challenging journey from the 1980s to where we are today and I want to pay tribute to all of the chairmen, directors, management and staff who have worked so hard to make the airport the success it is now becoming. We have also enjoyed tremendous support from the southeast region through the various tourism bodies, local authorities and – in particular – public representatives. Perhaps most of all, I want to thank all of the business and leisure passengers who make Waterford their first choice for travel to the UK and France,” he added.

While it was on July 8, 1985 that Ryanair had their inaugural flight on the Waterford-London Gatwick route, there is another significant milestone for Waterford Airport this year in that it will be 25 years in December since the granting in 1981 of an operational licence by the Department of Transport & Power to the airport.

Avair Managing Director Gerry Connolly formally handed over the licence to then Airport Manager Chris Hennessy after a 25-minute flight from Dublin on a 30-seater commuter aircraft. Avair Ltd went on to provide a twice-weekly mid-day scheduled service between Dublin and Waterford from March 1982.

* Further information about passenger services and flight training options at Waterford Airport are available online at www.flywaterford.com while bookings for Aer Arann services can be made through www.aerarann.com, at travel agents or by calling 0818-210210.

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