By Sean Moriarty
Kerry Airport CEO John Mulhern has welcomed Government funding that will help the airport “navigate through this difficult winter”. On Tuesday, the Department of Transport announced an €80 million funding package for Irish airports following a disastrous year for the sector.
Kerry Airport has suffered particularly badly as a result of pandemic related restrictions.
Management there bravely kept the airport at Farranfore fully operational, even during the first lockdown that grounded Ryanair flights to and from the airport.
During the spring, only the Kerry-Dublin commuter flight operated but there was some hope when Ryanair started a limited schedule to and from German and British airports despite a very limited number of passengers using the services.
That was reversed once Level 5 restrictions came into force three weeks ago. Ryanair took the decision to stop flying to Kerry and other regional airports until December 14.
Kerry Airport were left with no choice but to lay off the majority of its staff as a result of the Ryanair decision, the first time this year they took any action that affected staff despite plummeting passenger numbers.
“The announcement of additional aviation supports is most warmly welcomed and appreciated. It will go some way to help us, eventually find our way back to full employment and busy flight schedules, here in Kerry and at all our islands’ airports,” Mr Mulhern said. “Thank you Deputy Brendan Griffin and Minister Norma Foley despite your hectic agendas you always find time for us. Thanks to all our county’s elected officials for your continued and loyal support of our great airport. Nobody says this crisis is over but you collectively put a hand on our backs to support us and we appreciate that.”
Kerry Airport will share over €6m in funding with Donegal and Knock Airports for operational support. This is in addition to the €21m already put aside in Budget 2021 for capital grants in regional airports.
Airport bosses previously said that every effort will be made to get all employees back to the workplace as soon as possible and they will stay in touch and available throughout the layoff and contact staff with any updates as soon as possible.
Kerry Airport, up until last week, was the only airport in the country that had not laid off staff.
“This will help get people back to work sooner than we imagined,” Mr Mulhern told the Killarney Advertiser but warned that cannot happen until Ryanair return to the airport. “This funding will put us in a better place and we will get employees back once Ryanair increases flights.”