In 2013, the annual number of passengers using Ireland West Knock reached 665,000 - the second highest traffic figures at the airport since it opened in 1986.
The airport now serves over 25 International destinations and is served by four of Europe’s biggest airlines Aer Lingus, Flybe, Germanwings and Ryanair.
Recent research carried out at the airport showed that 15% of the Irish originating passengers (equating to over 40,000) who used the airport in 2013 came from the Donegal region whilst over 20,000 visitors, who came from overseas markets to the region, using the airport as the access point, visited Donegal during their stay, highlighting the importance of the airport as a major international gateway to Donegal and the North West of Ireland.
2014 promises to be another milestone year at Ireland West Airport Knock with the year ahead forecasted to be the busiest ever year in the airport’s history with passenger numbers expected to exceed 700,000 for the first time.
The Gathering provided a major boost for passenger numbers in 2013 particularly from key markets in the UK, Italy and Germany with particular highlights including:
7% increase in traffic on London services;
23% increase in traffic from the Italian market on Ryanairs Milan service;
28% increase in traffic from the German market on Lufthansas Dusseldorf service;
Flybe celebrated 100,000 passenger milestone at Ireland West Airport Knock on their Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester services;
The Airport won the Social Enterprise Award for Connacht in the Ulster Bank Business Achiever Awards.
New destinations for 2014 include a new twice weekly service from Eindhoven in Holland which starts at the beginning of April. This new service represents a significant milestone for the airport and western region as it provides scheduled direct air access for the first time from the Benelux region, which has a population of over 28m people and is a growing tourism market to Ireland.
In addition Ryanair will begin new direct services, three times weekly, to Glasgow, starting June 2014, and Kaunas, once weekly, (Lithuania) from next April. Furthermore Ryanair will add an additional 60,000 seats on their hugely popular Luton and Stansted services, with new evening departures on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, to cater for the increasing demand amongst the business and commuter market.
Starting May 31st 2014, the airport welcomes another of Europe’s biggest carriers to the airport, Germanwings, which is wholly owned by Europe’s largest airline, Lufthansa, and will operate direct flights to and from Cologne-Bonn in Germany every Saturday until the end of October. Connecting services to their expanded network of over 80 destinations worldwide will also be bookable as part of the new service. From Cologne/Bonn airport the cities of Cologne and Bonn are only 15 minutes away with both Dusseldorf and Frankfurt also within 90 minutes drive.
This new announcement is a major boost for tourism in the West, North West and Midlands regions of Ireland as it provides the only direct access to the West Coast from this region in Germany.
In recent weeks the airport also welcomed the decision by Government to change the policy on Regional airports that will see exchequer support for Ireland West Airport Knock extended to 2023. A further positive development in this regard was the publication of the Study Group report on the future development and growth options at Ireland West Airport Knock in December.
Roadmap for the airport’s future
The report, which was presented to An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar TD in mid December contains a number of targets and parameters that will guide the airport in moving forward and pursuing a progressive growth strategy and implement a business plan which will enable the Airport to achieve a sustainable position in the longer term.
The report outlines a roadmap for the growth and development of the airport as a key piece of access infrastructure for this region and sets targets and challenges for all stakeholders including the Local Authorities and the airport looks forward to working with these stakeholders to grow the airport over the next ten years for the benefit of the entire West and North West and Midlands regions of the country.
Looking forward to 2014, Joe Gilmore, Managing Director at Ireland West Airport Knock said: “We are delighted to have had another strong year in 2013 against what continues to be a very challenging environment in the aviation industry. We are looking forward to the year ahead being the busiest year in the airport’s history with four new services being launched, extra capacity on our key London services and the Wild Atlantic Way project getting underway.
“We hope the Wild Atlantic Way initiative will be a major tourism success story for the region and our continued growth and the addition of new services will be central to its success as Ireland West Airport will be the main international Western gateway for the route, which runs from Donegal to West Cork.”