Funding has been announced for Ireland West Airport Knock and Kerry Airport.
Ireland West Airport Knock Statement
In a statement published on its website, Ireland West Airport Knock stated, "Ireland West Airport today welcomes the announcement by Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton T.D. that funding to the amount of €504,750 from the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport has been approved for Capital expenditure (CAPEX) projects. The funding is provided to contribute towards investment in sustainability initiatives in the areas of safety, security and sustainability under the Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025.
"In 2019 the Ireland West Airport was awarded Eco Merit Certification which recognises that the airport is operating in an environmentally responsible manner with a continued focus on helping improve our environmental performance, reduce costs and manage risk.
"The airport is currently part of the Airport Councils International (ACI) Carbon Accreditation Programme which sets out a framework for airports to reduce and manage their carbon footprint. As part of this framework it is currently progressing a sustainability and environmental strategy over the next 5-year period and to create an environmental green airport programme reducing overall carbon emissions and to achieve ‘net zero’ for its carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. The objective is part of the resolution, which was adopted at ACI’s annual congress meeting in Cyprus, which means that by 2050, Europe's airports including Ireland West Airport will produce no carbon emissions, without using offset initiatives such as buying carbon credits.
"Announcing the funding, Minister of State Naughton said, 'Building on my announcement of €4.87m in capital funds to the airports of Ireland West (Knock), Kerry and Donegal on 19 April earlier this year, and €16.33m in capital funds to the airports of Cork and Shannon, I am delighted to approve these additional capital allocations. Today's investment represents an important step in the process towards the 'greening' of Irish Airports.'
"Minister Naughton added, 'I am pleased to say that this funding will support a Master Plan for Carbon Reduction at Ireland West Airport, an External Lighting Project to replace high energy consuming lighting at Kerry Airport and an extensive vehicle replacement programme at both Ireland West and Kerry Airports. This will see 20 vehicles being replaced by electric models. This funding represents a strong commitment by Government to help Ireland’s regional airports move towards carbon neutrality.'
"Replacement vehicles include electric aircraft tugs, baggage conveyors, special assistance passenger transport vehicles, an incident support vehicle, an airfield patrol vehicle, a runway maintenance vehicle, a rescue vehicle, and hybrid ground power units. Funding towards an electric aircraft refueler is also being provided.
"Over the past decade, the Regional Airports Programme has targeted Exchequer support towards safety and security related projects/operational activities at Ireland's smallest regional airports (those with scheduled flights and fewer than 1 million annual passengers). The scope of the new Programme published earlier this year has been broadened to include sustainability objectives.
"The funding is now being provided for capital projects with a sustainability focus to help expedite airports' efforts to reduce emissions in line with the Programme's goal to move towards carbon neutrality.'
"Welcoming today's announcement, Arthur French, Chairman, Ireland West Airport, said, 'We welcome today's announcement of funding towards sustainability initiatives by the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton T.D. which will assist the airport in undertaking important sustainability related projects in the coming months to support our commitment to delivering on the environmental green airport programme and to reducing overall carbon emissions to achieve a 'net zero' position by 2050 at the latest. We also wish to acknowledge the continued support of Ministers Naughton and Ryan and the Department of Transport during what continues to be a very challenging time for the airport due to the continued impact of COVID-19.'"
Kerry Airport Statement
In a statement published on its website, Kerry Airport said, "MANAGEMENT at Kerry Airport Ireland have thanked the Minister of State in the Department of Transport for the generous allocation of funding to support proposed green initiatives at the airport.
"Hildegarde Naughten TD has announced the allocation of over €1m in Exchequer funding to Kerry Airport under the Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025.
"The CEO at Kerry Airport, John Mulhern, said, 'We recognise the challenges facing the aviation industry in the global battle to protect our environment. Our plan to introduce an electric fleet of vehicles confirms our commitment to move forward towards carbon neutrality. This funding from the Department of Transport demonstrates a strong commitment by Government to help us achieve that goal and continue our recovery. We thank Minister Naughten and recognise the tireless work in the background by the team at the Department of Transport. Grateful thanks as always to our Kerry-based Government representatives, Minister for Education Norma Foley and Deputy Government Chief Whip Brendan Griffin for their continued support.'
"Kerry Airport plans to introduce measures over the coming months that will result in the purchase of electric aircraft tugs, baggage conveyors, special assistance passenger transport vehicles, and an incident support vehicle.
"Funding will also be provided for an electric aircraft refueler, an airfield patrol vehicle, a runway maintenance vehicle, a rescue vehicle, and an upgrade of all carpark lighting to low energy LED.
"Kerry Airport is ideally located for anyone wishing to travel on business or pleasure with direct flights to London-Stansted, London-Luton, Manchester, Frankfurt-Hahn and Dublin. There is ample and great-value parking at Kerry Airport as well as friendly service. For more information about Kerry Airport, please visit www.KerryAirport.ie or contact +353 66 9764644."
Emirates' Dublin To Dubai Route Capacity
In other Irish airport-related news, as reported by The Irish Times, Middle Eastern airline Emirates has said that it could be next summer before it restores more capacity on its route from Dublin to its hub in Dubai, even as it experiences a bookings surge due to the reopening of travel into come Australian cities that can be reached from Ireland via the Middle East.
Emirates reportedly said that the Dublin-Dubai route remains profitable, however, due to elevated revenues from shifting cargo such as core Irish exports like pharmaceutical products and food. Overall, revenues on the route were reportedly 80% higher in September compared to the prior year, with cargo reportedly making up 30%.
The airline, which is ultimately owned by the government of Dubai, reportedly currently flies to the city-state once per day from Dublin, which is reportedly half its pre-pandemic capacity, when it reportedly flew twice daily on the route.
Emirates country manager for Ireland Enda Corneille reportedly said that the current load factor, which is the proportion of seats sold on each flight, is 50% for its seven weekly flights, compared to 85%-90% prior to the pandemic on its 14 flights.
This reportedly suggests that Emirates, which reportedly uses an aircraft with 360 seats on the route, is currently flying approximately 1,250 passengers per week from Dublin to Dubai, compared to closer to 4,500 per week prior to the pandemic.
Corneille reportedly said that Dublin is one of the top five "feeder markets" for flights from Emirates' Dubai hub to Australian cities and that the relaxation of strict border closures there has been a "game changer" for flights originating in Ireland.
Bookings are reportedly up 197% to Melbourne and Sydney, where restrictions have been eased, although quarantine remains in other cities such as Adelaide.
Corneille reportedly said that a critical factor for the Dublin route to Dubai is that where border restrictions have been eased in Australia, it has allowed the family of residents there to visit, opening up a gap for the relatives of Irish emigrants to Australia who have been separated since the start of the pandemic to reunite.
Corneille reportedly said that Emirates anticipates moving beyond seven flights per week on the Dublin next year, "but probably not before the summer" and that it will also be dependent upon further easing of Australian travel rules, as well further easing into Thailand and South Africa.
Currently, approximately 70% of passengers from Ireland reportedly go no further than Dubai, reportedly compared to a proportion of just 20% prior to the pandemic who connected in the hub before flying on elsewhere to one of Emirates other 120 destinations worldwide.
Corneille reportedly also confirmed that the proportion of passengers travelling in first class and business class seats are up compared to before the pandemic, which runs counter to expectations that business conducted over technology such as Zoom calls would have a dramatic impact on business travel.
Corneille reportedly suggested that business travel on short haul flights will be more likely to be affected.
As reported by The Irish Independent, it is likely to be next summer before Emirates can revert to a double-daily service on its Dublin-Dubai route, but Corneille said that its planes are virtually full between the cities over Christmas as ex-pats in Australia and Ireland plan trips home
Irish Airport Services Firm Sky Handling Partner Experienced A Pre-Tax Loss Last Year
In additional Irish airport-related news, as also reported by The Irish Independent, Irish airport services firm Sky Handling Partner, which is owned by France's Groupe Crit, experienced a pre-tax loss of close to €1 million pre-tax loss last year as air travel was ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company reportedly provides ground handling services at Dublin and Shannon airports, both of which saw passenger numbers collapse as the pandemic took hold last year.
Accounts just filed for the firm reportedly relate only to operations at Dublin Airport.
Those latest set of accounts reportedly reveal that turnover at the business decreased to €9.1 million last year from €23.4 million a year earlier.
The 2020 loss reportedly followed a €1.7 million profit the previous year.
The company reportedly also received almost €1 million of government COVID-19-related supports in 2020.
The directors reportedly noted in the accounts, "The airline industry was and continues to be significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with the demise of Flybe in early March and subsequent reductions of up to 80% for all other airlines over a four-week period, resulting in a decrease in revenue of 61% year-on-year."
The directors reported added, "To minimise the effect of this dramatic reduction in activity, the company acted swiftly by implementing a redundancy programme at a cost of €456,000 and reducing its remaining cost base by 30%. These reductions, coupled with a strong opening cash position, enabled the company to protect the residual business and sustain itself during the remaining half of the year."
The firm reportedly cut its workforce almost in half in 2020, reportedly ending the year with an average of 284 staff, compared to 534 at the end of 2019.
The company reportedly secured a contract with LOT Polish Airlines in August last year and this year reportedly inked contracts with Etihad, Icelandair and Eurowings.
The directors reportedly said that they had been expecting a "steady increase" in airline activity from June this year and that the company is on target to achieve its budgeted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) during 2021.
The directors reportedly added that while it may take several years to recover all of the lost activity, they remain optimistic that the company is well-positioned to grow in the future.
Groupe Crit reportedly recently reported that its third-quarter revenue increased by 17.1% to €534 million.
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