Pictured are Graham Doyle, CE, Waterford Airport; Garry Cullen, MD, Aer Arann; Mr. Nicholas Fewer, Chairman, Waterford Airport Company; and Peter O’Mara, CE, Nex Aviation.                                                                                                                                                                                  (John Power Photography)

Pictured are Graham Doyle, CE, Waterford Airport; Garry Cullen, MD, Aer Arann; Mr. Nicholas Fewer, Chairman, Waterford Airport Company; and Peter O’Mara, CE, Nex Aviation. (John Power Photography)

Waterford Airport is now the fastest growing in Ireland in passenger growth according to Nicky Fewer, airport chairman, and is a new hub for Continental travel by Aer Arann, Ireland’s 3rd largest airline.

Waterford Airport this week welcomed the announcement by Aer Arann that it has entered a franchise agreement with Nex Aviation which will provide a major expansion of services from the southeast regional airport. Under the new agreement, Waterford will have easy and fast access to Amsterdam, Bordeaux, Malaga, and Faro from May 1.

Nicholas Fewer, Chairman of Waterford Airport Company, said the announcement that Aer Arann would operate scheduled services to Continental destinations, particularly Amsterdam, means that the whole of the southeast region now has quick and easy access to virtually any major destination in the world.

Advance fares to Amsterdam return can be for as little as 200-250 euro, booking via the web with the top fare being twice that in the event of late booking.

The new routes will add another 16,000 passengers out of Waterford in the coming year. The airport has been experiencing double digit growth, with numbers up 42 per cent last year.

116,000 passengers used the airport in Waterford last year.

He hopes after all the developments in the next few years at Waterford Airport that 500,000 could be traveling through there each year, when he spoke to the press this week.

The runway and road developments are yet to take place but by the end of 2009, that could be achieved, when the capital programme can be completed.

These are exciting developments and a figure of one million passengers is conceivable In the future.

“We are delighted that Aer Arann is to operate the service which Nex Aviation pioneered last year and we believe that the new services will satisfy a pent-up demand for access to European destinations and to a major transport hub such as Schiphol airport from where it is possible to make onward connections to almost anywhere in the world.

“We are looking forward to Aer Arann operating the new schedule and we believe that the airline, with which we have had an outstandingly good relationship since 2001, is the ideal operator and will provide an excellent service for passengers from the region and beyond.

“We hope to be in a position to make further positive announcements on new and expanded services from Waterford during the coming year and we look forward to progress on the major €28 million capital investment in expanding and upgrading the infrastructure at the airport announced last year.

Inward tourism

“The new services will not only facilitate access to the Continent by Irish people but we will also be concentrating on attracting significant inward tourism and investment in the region from these European locations,” said the Chairman. “We also believe that the new levels of connectivity will be of benefit to the business community and will make the region more accessible and competitive as a location in which to invest and do business.

“We look forward to another record year at Waterford Airport in 2008 and we thanks all those who have supported us in the past; Aer Arann who have worked so successfully in partnership with us; my fellow Board members for their faith in our business plan and the management and employees of the airport who have worked so hard to ensure to implement the services we commit to,” added Mr Fewer.

Garry Cullen, Managing Director at Aer Arann, said: “Since we announced the availability of these services, we have experienced an unprecedented level of interest and over the week-end, we have had 1, 250 bookings, which is outstanding considering that we have not yet undertaken any marketing of the new flights.

Schipol has huge options

“These four new destinations will provide greater choice and easier access to continental Europe for our customers in the west from Galway Airport and in the southeast from Waterford Airport. In addition to the sun destinations, this route expansion offers services to Amsterdam Schiphol. Schiphol offers the best connections of any airport in the world, with more than 260 destinations in 91 countries.”

Waterford Amsterdam is now an alternative hub to Dublin suggested Mr. Fewer when speaking at a press conference and Waterford travellers should check out this option.

The new route expansion comes on the back of a franchise deal between Aer Arann and Nex Aviation. The services will be sold as part of the Aer Arann network. The 100 seater BAE 146-200 jet has leather seats and a generous seat pitch of 31 inches. This aircraft will operate alongside Aer Arann’s current fleet of 14 ATR turbo-prop aircraft. This announcement follows the 2007 delivery of two new ATR 72-500 aircraft, the first in a fleet of 10 to be delivered by 2009.

Mr. Cullen continued: “Aer Arann’s partnership with Nex Aviation allows us to expand our range and underpins the Aer Arann strategy of connecting regional Ireland to the UK and mainland Europe. Of course, the in-flight experience offered on board will be the same high quality that Aer Arann’s passengers expect.”

Peter O’Mara, Chief Executive of Nex Aviation said: “Nex Aviation is delighted to announce this partnership with Aer Arann. The Aer Arann brand is firmly established as a household name, and it is a huge benefit to Nex Aviation. Connecting the two regions to a major global hub such as Amsterdam Schiphol is a significant development in access. We anticipate further exciting new routes to be announced in 2008.”

Waterford Airport Chief Executive, Graham Doyle said: “This is very exciting news for Waterford Airport and the South-East region. It brings to eight the number of routes offered by Aer Arann from Waterford this summer – with a choice of weekend, holiday and business destinations and excellent opportunities for onward connections, particularly through Schiphol, one of Europe’s main hubs”.

The new services will commence on May 1 from Galway and Waterford Airports. Flights will operate daily from both airports to alternate destinations:

Monday: Bordeaux and Amsterdam

Tuesday: Malaga

Wednesday: Faro

Thursday: Amsterdam

Friday: Bordeaux and Amsterdam

Saturday: Malaga

Sunday: Faro and Amsterdam

About Aer Arann

Aer Arann is one of the fastest growing regional airlines in the world with a turnover in excess of €100 million per annum and passenger numbers in excess of 1 million for 2007. The airline currently operates over 600 flights per week across 40 routes in Ireland, the UK and France, and announced expansion into Amsterdam, Bordeaux, Malaga and Faro in January 2008. The company employs over 400 staff. Aer Arann took delivery of the first of 10 new ATR 72-500 series aircraft on Tuesday 29th May 2007 in a deal worth $180 million.

Incidentally with the growth in the business park at Waterford Airport, over 200 are now employed out there in various spheres, added Mr. Fewer. He sees the area being a new corridor for Waterford business.