Management at Galway Airport have said they have received “positive indications” that the Department of Transport may provide funding for the facility in the coming year.
The Carnmore airport received a major boost last week, when Galway County Council committed to providing €50,000 in funding during its budget deliberations. The money was set aside on the condition that Galway City Council also contribute €50,000 and the Department of Transport match the local authority funding with a €100,000 grant.
The move was cautiously welcomed by management at the airport, which has been under considerable strain in recent times amid efforts to secure an ongoing revenue stream.
Michael Coyle of Galway Chamber, which is a major stakeholder in the airport, said funding to continue operations at the airport was “a work in progress, it’s not guaranteed”, adding that the first major hurdle was obtaining €50,000 from Galway City Council.
“There were some recent positive comments from city councillors but, unfortunately, in their decision making, there was so specific provision made for the airport,” he said.
If this vital funding were in place, Mr Coyle said he was optimistic that the Department would match the funding, as it had previously challenged the facility to confirm local support.
“We have had indications in discussions we have had with the Minister. There’s a suggestion there that perhaps he might provide further funding and we have conveyed the recent developments through [Fine Gael] Deputy Brian Walsh,” he explained.
“We would hope that Deputy Walsh would be able to work on that and show Minister Varadkar that both councils are supportive but I can’t speculate as to what the outcome of that conversation would be.”
Another condition of the County Council funding is understood to be that Galway Airport can demonstrate that it can raise a sum of €500,000 to cover its operating costs over the course of the year and Mr Coyle said there are numerous plans in train at the present time.
These are believed to include the creation of a Park and Ride facility for the city and the rental of hangars at the Carnmore base.
Management are believed to be in ongoing discussions with Bank of Ireland over lifeline funding for the airport, which the bank has been providing on a month-to-month basis for the past year.
The airport was previously plunged into chaos when the bank seized €1.1 million from its accounts in February, leaving the facility unable to pay redundancy payments to a number of staff. The situation was eventually settled and the employees paid in full after an 11-day sit-in at the airport.
No commercial flights are currently in operation at Galway Airport but it continues to be used for charters by local multinational companies and for medical emergency flights.