Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler has called on Transport Minister Shane Ross to progress a proposal to upgrade and extend the runway at Waterford Regional Airport.The airport has been in limbo since 2016 when the Belgian parent of the VLM airline went bankrupt.
It’s currently home to the Irish Coastguard Search And Rescue helicopter, along with a number of smaller private planes.
Deputy Butler stated: “I am deeply frustrated by the lack of movement on a runway extension for Waterford Regional Airport. The airport has the potential to bring a much needed economic boost to the region, through tourism, business and cargo flights.
“In order to accommodate Boeing 737s and Airbus A380s, the runway at Waterford needs to be upgraded and extended. Until this work is approved and undertaken, the airport will not be able to attract new business.”
Mary Butler added: “I welcomed last year’s €750,000 payment which secured the future of the Search and Rescue service that operates there, but more needs to be done to maximise other opportunities. This should be undertaken in conjunction with the proposed regeneration of the North Quays –adopting a whole of city and county approach.”Minister Ross has informed me that an analysis carried out by EY on the airport has now been submitted to his Department, which he will now examine. I am heartened by his statement that ‘we do not want to close the airport and we will give it every chance to succeed’. However words are no longer enough.”
She concluded: “I am calling on the Minister to consider the regional boost that a fully functioning airport would give to the south east region and to support the extension works which are so badly needed to secure the future of Waterford Regional Airport.”
Raising the matter with this newspaper on Friday last, fellow Waterford TD David Cullinane (SF) said the facility’s future firmly rested with the extension of the runway. “Sin é,” said Deputy Cullinane. “That’s the endgame and anyone with an ounce of sense has known for years that the airport was never going to be viable unless we had a runway extension.
We’ve had intervention after intervention with airport management doing their best to secure a carrier, but they came and went and weren’t viable and that can be solely attributed to the length of the runway, or more specifically, its lack of length. This has gone on for years, far too many now, and as far back as 20 years ago we had politicians talking about the need to extend the runway. But here we are today, in 2019, and we are still waiting, despite fighting for decades for a positive outcome. This runway extension simply has to happen…and hopefully we will get to a point where the runway extension will be funded because we have spoken about this particular matter for far too long.”