Waterford Regional Airport’s proposed runway extension and widening is in danger of falling foul of budgetary cutbacks.
Airport CEO Graham Doyle said he had received no notification that capital projects at the Killowen facility were under threat. However, the Department of Transport has confirmed that the €22.3 million allocated to Waterford under the Transport 21 grants scheme, which includes €13 million for a runway extension and widening, is currently under review. In a statement to The Munster Express, Mr Doyle said he was currently seeking clarification from the Department.
The investment, which was set to address one of the key infrastructure deficits in the South East, was part of an €86 million scheme announced by then Transport Minister Martin Cullen in February 2007 for safety measures as well as development projects at the six regional airports – Waterford, Donegal, Sligo, Knock, Galway and Kerry – under Transport 21 grants scheme. Some €47 million was for projects up to the end of 2010.
In the Budget, however, it was announced that grant aid for the six airports was to be capped at €11 million in 2009 and restricted to existing contractual commitments, with the Department of Transport to review both the level and phasing of that investment programme in the long term.
Since there was no timescale for the development of the new runway at Waterford Airport, it now seems likely that the plans will be shelved.
The Transport 21 funding allocated to Waterford Airport formed a key part of Waterford’s €27m investment plan set to massively increase the airport’s potential. It was widely anticipated locally that the upgraded runway would enable the airport to target low-budget Ryanair flights from 2010.