Knock Airport plans new service


Daily early-morning flights between Knock Regional Airport and Dublin will be in operation by the end of the year, the Minister for Public Enterprise, Ms O'Rourke, announced yesterday.

She was speaking following a meeting with the board of management at Knock, during which she described the airport as a thriving facility with a very sunny future.

She also complimented the board on its stance following the threat by the Ryanair chief executive, Mr Michael O'Leary, to withdraw all flight services from the airport, in protest at a £6 passenger levy. Mr O'Leary subsequently withdrew the threat "which taught the lesson of how important it is to stand up to people", the Minister said.

"Monopolies pose a danger, and I think Knock would do well not to become dependent on one airline. It is fortunate to have the British Express Airline already and is currently in talks with Jersey Airlines," she said.

The new Knock-Dublin morning service, which is subject to the approval of the EU under a PSO (public service obligation) subsidy scheme for peripheral airports, will be part-financed by the Government and should be sanctioned within six months. Its introduction, Ms O'Rourke said, would open up huge development potential around the airport, which had a 207,000-passenger throughput last year.

She denied that any favouritism had been shown towards other regional airports which, unlike Knock, had received Government funding. The board's plans for the airport had her full backing and she would do all in her power to help it develop, she said.

"It was a wonderful feat for this airport to have been built at all, for it to have survived up to now and to be looking to such a bright future."