THE Kerry Chambers of Commerce have said that Kerry Airport will play a major role in rebuilding the tourism industry in the county after the Covid-19 crisis and the Government must increase its financial support to the regional airport.
The Chambers of Commerce in Tralee, Killarney, Listowel, Dingle, Castleisland, Killorglin, Kenmare, Waterville and Caherciveen have voiced their opposition to calls from the three State-owned airports to reduce or remove State funding for Kerry Airport.
Kerry Airport is connected to five major European cities – London, Berlin, Frankfurt and Manchester with Ryanair and Dublin with Aer Lingus Regional – with nearly 370,000 passengers travelling through Kerry Airport in 2019, an increase on 2018 figures.
Existing grants from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to Kerry Airport complement the Kerry-Dublin PSO flights subsidy and they represent major support for rural Ireland while helping to sustain and create new jobs.
The Chief Executive of Tralee Chamber Alliance, Ken Tobin, said: “The timing of this call, in the middle of the greatest crisis to ever face our tourism industry, from the three heavily-funded State-Owned Airports who practically operate a monopoly on air travel into the country, is disgraceful. We are seeking an assurance from the present and future Ministers for Transport that funding to Kerry airport will, not only be maintained, but will be increased at this time.
“For these larger entities to rally round together to try and inflict further distress on our regional economy at this time is unconscionable. Going forward Kerry Airport will be a critical element to reopening our Economy here in Kerry, in particular as we try to salvage our tourism industry and to try and build on any opportunities for remote working and business access into the County.”
In September 2019, the Kerry Chambers made a joint submission to Minister Shane Ross that specifically called for an increased level of investment into Kerry Airport and for the Government to fulfil its obligation to unlock the potential for job creation in Kerry by increasing capacity in Kerry Airport.
The Kerry Chambers of Commerce have acknowledged the Department for Transport, Tourism and Sport and Minister of State, Brendan Griffin’s continued advocacy of the regional airport in Kerry as vital to the economy and the people of the county and the region.
The President of Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, Paul Sherry, said: “Kerry Airport acts as an economic driver for the region and has a major impact on the social and economic infrastructure of the surrounding area. State investments are essential for the continued delivery of a safe and efficient service at Kerry Airport. The Government’s continued strong support for Kerry Airport represents major support for rural Ireland and is helping to sustain jobs and create new ones after the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Kerry Airport Ireland is an important strategic asset to County Kerry in strengthening transportation links both nationally and internationally. It plays a significant economic role in creating opportunities by attracting investment and tourists to the region.
Kerry Airport facilitates trade in goods and services, enables the movement of workers and tourists, and drives business innovation and investment, and is of particular importance for many of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy based in Kerry.
The Chairman of the Kerry Tourism Industry Federation, Pat O’Leary, said: “18 percent of jobs in Kerry are directly dependent on the tourism and hospitality sectors. Kerry is markedly less resilient than other counties to the shockwaves generated by COVID-19 with fewer alternative sectors that could compensate for job losses. Increased funding for Kerry Airport should be prioritised in the Government’s strategy to prevent the tourism industry from faltering.”
The Kerry Chambers of Commerce have commended the team at Kerry Airport who have kept the facility open throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
They have supported emergency air services and, in partnership with Stobart Air, maintained the vital connection with Dublin for frontline staff and essential journeys, including those who must travel for healthcare treatments such as cancer care. Government investments are essential for the continued delivery of a safe and efficient service at Kerry Airport when the virus has been defeated.