Kerry Airport grant allocation in doubt

3 Nov

The Department Transport has confirmed that both the level and phasing of investment announced last year for the country’s regional airports is under review. Some €86 million was announced in February 2007 for safety measures as well as development projects at the six regional airports – Donegal, Sligo, Knock, Galway, Waterford and Kerry – under Transport 21 grants scheme. Some €47 million was for projects up to the end of 2010.

Then minister for transport Martin Cullen said the investment reflected the belief that the airports had a key role in facilitating balanced regional development. In the Budget it was announced that grant aid for the six airports was to be capped at €11 million in 2009, and restricted to “contractually committed” projects.

Kerry airport, which is operating from a terminal built to handle about 30 per cent of the 400,000 passengers it now sees, had been approved for €17.7 million under Transport 21 to develop luggage and other facilities. Airport sources this weekend said safety works were being carried out under the programme, but there was no timescale for the terminal building.

The airport is effectively the third major project in Kerry to be shelved in recent weeks since the Budget cutbacks, leading to accusations from the local chamber of commerce that regional areas are suffering unduly. The plan to bypass the congested gateway to Kerry at Castleisland, which had gone out to tender, has been put on the long finger. The Tralee bypass has also been pulled.

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