Waterford Airport funding 'could lead to London connection'

Waterford Airport funding 'could lead to London connection'

NEW funding for Waterford Airport could lead to regular connecting flights to and from London, according to a Waterford  TD.

Fine Gael’s John Deasy made the comments following a decision by Ireland’s Transport Department earlier this month to offer more than €400,000 for a new runway extension at the south east hub.

Deputy Deasy said the move was “very significant” and that it would allow the airport to “connect to London in particular”.

He expects the 150m runway extension to: "greatly improve the prospects of attracting a carrier to operate the Waterford–Luton service, which was previously used by 80,000 passengers a year."

He said that: “Around €850,000 will now be needed from the private sector and local authority sources to fully finance the project."

However, he said of the €405,000 Government grant: “I think the department feels happy with the private sector involvement in meeting the balance of the project cost.”

He added that it was his belief that the Irish Government had recognised that a relatively modest outlay by the State could yield major benefits for the region’s economy

Deputy Deasy had been trying to secure the investment for a number of months by liaising directly with the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.

The capital expenditure grant had been approved by the government in late 2011 only to be frozen after Aer Arann’s decision to pull out of Waterford Airport in January of this year.

Mr Varadkar decided to release the funding after a meeting with the airport board last month, and gave the go-ahead to Waterford County Council for a compulsory purchase order for the required 18 acres of land.