A series of crunch meetings with the Government over the future of Galway Airport are continuing this week.
As pressure mounts to secure an alternative revenue stream, stakeholders including Galway Chamber have been engaged in a series of last-gasp meetings with Government representatives with a view to restoring confidence about the long-term prospects of the Carnmore facility.
Minister of State Alan Kelly received a presentation from the board of management in recent weeks, where it was communicated that the establishment of a permanent Park and Ride service at Galway Airport was “vital” to the future of the aerodrome.
Speaking to the Galway Independent, Galway Chamber CEO Michael Coyle said the group had a “very good” meeting with the Minister, who “listened very carefully” to the plans and commended them on a “very persuasive” case.
It is understood that Minister Kelly now plans to make contact with Galway City Council on the establishment of the service and Mr Coyle said that such a facility would be invaluable to the city in battling traffic congestion in the coming years.
It had been hoped that a Christmas Park and Ride could be put in place over the festive season to gauge interest in the site but with “no formal communications’” from the local authority as yet, Mr Coyle conceded that it was now looking unlikely.
“We saw it as an opportunity to test consumer reaction to the airport site as a park and ride, which would enable us to carry out market research. Based on the feedback from that, you could gauge whether the appetite would be there for a permanent site on an ongoing basis,” he said.
“That’s why we were so positive about that opportunity but it remains to be seen whether we will be given that opportunity. If called upon to do so, even at this late stage, we would be in a position to provide that service.”
Mr Coyle said that, while maintaining the Galway Airport business remained “hugely challenging”, he had been reassured by the feedback given by Minister Kelly and urged the local authority to make a swift decision on the service.
“He specifically mentioned the important role that the park and ride could play in bringing future air traffic to the city; he made the connect very quickly and that was hugely reassuring to us.
“I think, like most businesses out there who are experiencing difficulty, inevitably we are attempting to deal with our customers but we are also attempting to deal with our bankers and so on. I think it would be hugely important in creating confidence with our customers, with the licensing aviation authority, with the Department of Transport and with our banks.”
When questioned by this newspaper, a spokesperson for Galway City Council said it had not yet received any contact from Minister Kelly on the issue but “any assistance which the Minister or his Department could offer in support of a park and ride would be very welcome”.
“The city council has been engaged in discussions with Galway Airport regarding the feasibility of locating a park and ride at the airport on a pilot basis. This is one of a number of possible options for park and ride, and the council is at present awaiting more information on the proposal to provide a service at the airport.”