Waterford Airport is to receive a multimillion-euro investment, seven years after the departure of its last commercial flight.
An announcement of a combination of public and private investment is expected on Friday, with the focus to be an extension to the airport’s runway.
It is understood that up to €20 million will be committed by private investors, with overall investment possibly topping €30 million when public funding is added. The board of the airport is known to have begun negotiations with the billionaire Galway brothers Luke and Brian Comer that could see them taking a majority stake in the facility. The Waterford News & Star title reported earlier this month that this could amount to an 80 per cent holding.
A 150 metre extension to the airport’s runway, funded by the Department of Transport, was planned a decade ago but never came to fruition. Planning permission was granted last year for a runway extension and associated works, but private investment stalled.
Minister for Finance Michael McGrath is due in Waterford on Friday to make an announcement about the airport’s future.
Waterford Airport opened in 1981, with Ryanair operating its first scheduled flight four years later. In its final year of commercial flight operations seven years ago, the facility handled 13,511 passengers. The Irish Coast Guard Air and Sea Rescue helicopter is based at the airport.
Last September, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan poured cold water over the commercial future of Waterford Airport, pointing to the number of aviation facilities already in the southeast and noting the Government had not seen a detailed redevelopment proposal for the facility.
“We have so many airports in the country... Knock, Shannon, Kerry, Cork, Dublin, Belfast,” he told local radio station WLRFM at that stage.
“It is not an easy commercial proposition to start getting the base that would give you a commercial service.”