News that Aer Arann has gone into examinership is of concern to travellers, businesses and the people of the South East as the airline is the sole commercial operator at Waterford Regional Airport.
This is a most regrettable development at the end of the summer season. The airline had been seeking new finance, to no avail to date. Aer Arann has been great for Waterford Regional Airport, which has become hugely successful.
Despite the recession and ash dust, bookings held up over the last 12 months, even with a downturn in the economy.
The partnership that has developed between Aer Arann and Waterford Regional Airport in recent years has grown exponentially.
Since Ryanair’s first route in late 1985, this marks nearly 25 years of scheduled services from Waterford. For the economy of the South East, it is essential to have direct air services to the main UK cities like London and Manchester and more recently Birmingham.
The passengers to the airport so far this year have boosted tourism in the region massively. People from Waterford city and county, South Tipperary, Kilkenny, New Ross and County Wexford all use Waterford airport.
The better road infrastructure has helped Waterford with the new motorway to Dublin making journey times faster, and along with the Waterford by pass and bridge, the road access problem to the airport has been solved.
AIB has granted the examiner one million euro on-going finance to seek out new investors.
If the business had a fresh start, free of some of the debts, then it may have a chance, but it has lost six million in the year to date, according to reports.
We would hope that the Waterford Airport service could make a profit on its passenger loads. Higher fares may be needed to keep operating the London service.
“The airport has thrived despite the fact that, to date, the Government has refused to release additional capital funding to extend the runway at Waterford Regional Airport, as promised. Categorical support to maintain direct air service links to the South East remains absolutely crucial,” said Fine Gael TD John Deasy.
He praised the success and outstanding performance of Waterford Regional Airport and said the critical importance of its continued existence for the region must be acknowledged.
After the Crystal and other industrial closures, this certainly is a most critical event for the region. Let’s make sure we maintain the UK air link. Emigrants will find it a lifeline in the coming years.