Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (237)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

237. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport the measures being considered to ensure that regional airports such as Cork Airport will retain their capital funding programmes to ensure upkeep and maintenance for facilities such as runway improvements. [26815/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I would like to thank the Deputy for his question in relation to regional airports and Cork Airport.

All regional airports, including Cork as an autonomous business unit within daa, are already benefitting from an extensive range of Covid-related Government measures. These include wage subsidy schemes, grants, low-cost loans, waiver of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities. Up to the end of August, the airports of Cork, Donegal, Ireland West, Kerry and Shannon Group (including Shannon Airport) had collectively received, or were in the process of applying for horizontal supports to a value of approx €6.5 million.

Government is also providing the smaller of these airports, those that typically handle less than 1 million passengers, €6m in Exchequer grants this year under Current and Capital Schemes under the existing Regional Airports Programme.

In addition to the grant aid, regional connectivity continues to be subsidised through Government funded PSO air services between Dublin and the airports of Donegal and Kerry. Over €7m is being provided to support this service in 2020.

A new Regional Airports Programme for a five year period starting in 2021 is currently being finalised. This will help eligible airports remain viable as they begin to plan for recovery and transition away from the devastation of Covid.

In addition to the above, an Exchequer contribution of €6.1million for a Hold Baggage Screening project at Shannon Airport was approved in June this year. This project was suspended because of Covid and Government intervened to ensure Shannon Airport's capacity to remain compliant with related EU regulations.

In relation to any future support mechanisms for the aviation sector, my Department will continue to work closely with aviation stakeholders and continue to review options in the context of the Government’s plans for international travel, having regard to the recommendations of the Aviation Taskforce.

I cannot give specific commitments at this time because any further supports that may be considered will be part of the ongoing Budget deliberations, and there are many competing demands on the public purse. However, I can assure the Deputy that the importance of these airports to the regions is well understood by Government.