The decision by the Department of Transport to provide funding of more than €400,000 for a runway extension at Waterford Airport has been welcomed.
Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy said the decision by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to make the funding available was a recognition by the Government that a relatively modest outlay by the State could yield major benefits for the region's economy.
The capital expenditure grant had been approved by the government in late 2011 only to be frozen after Aer Arann decided to pull out of Waterford Airport in January.
However, following a meeting with the airport board last month, Mr Varadkar agreed to release the grant. Mr Deasy said the Minister had given Waterford County Council the go-ahead for a compulsory purchase order for some 18 acres of land adjacent to the airport which will allow the airport carry out a 150-metre extension to the runway.
“Around €850,000 will now be needed from the private sector and local authority sources to fully finance the project but in committing this grant of €405,000, I think the department feels happy with the private sector involvement in meeting the balance of the project cost,” Mr Deasy said.
"There's also an acknowledgement that the people at Waterford Airport have used every cent to try to pave the way for additional expansion to bring in different kinds of jet aircraft and to connect to London in particular."