Galway County Council has responded to a request for funding by the board of Galway Airport by agreeing to provide a contingency sum of €50,000 to the beleaguered Carnmore facility, provided a number of conditions are met.
The motion, which was proposed by Cllr Jimmy McClearn as part of an amendment to the council’s 2013 budget, requires that Galway City Council also provides a sum of €50,000, the Department of Transport provides €100,000 and the airport’s commercial interests can generate €500,000 by 28 February 2013.
Cllr Liam Carroll, who is also a board member of Galway Airport, said the airport had proved its value but the site also had a broader value to the community as a transport hub, as a park and ride facility and as a flight training school.
He said that, in the past week, four medical evacuations had used Galway Airport, one of which was a life-saving operation.
The Oranmore area Councillor also expressed disappointment that Galway City Council did not choose to base its Christmas Park and Ride service at Carnmore and instead opted for Ballybrit.
He said time was running out for the airport and that it would be an “awful pity” if a community asset like that was lost to the community in Galway County and City.
A letter sent to councillors had initially sought €100,000 in funding for the airport, but Cllr McClearn told the Galway Independent that the council could not accede to that request.
“Obviously, we had a very difficult budget to bring forward but we do realise that Galway Airport, either as an airport or [through] ancillary activities, has a lot of potential,” said the Loughrea area councillor.
Cllr McClearn said the board of the airport must bring negotiations over potential revenue generating initiatives to fruition before the council would hand over the €50,000. If the €500,000 was not raised by the end of February, the money would not be made available by Galway County Council.
“Clearly, we’re not putting in €50,000 if it hasn’t a long-term future and, if all the other bits don’t fall into place, it won’t have a long-term future. So essentially we’re giving the board of the airport an opportunity to conclude the negotiations they have ongoing with some business interests,” the Fine Gael councillor said.
“They have been in negotiations, as I understand it, for some time, so either they’re going to come to fruition or they’re not – it’s not something they can drag on indefinitely,” he added.