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Saturday, June 30, 2012
A withdrawal of a government subsidy on the Kerry /Dublin route could threaten the survival of Kerry Airport, the airport’s AGM was told yesterday.
Kerry Airport plc chairman Denis Cregan said there was a feeling in "certain quarters" in Dublin that the airport does not need the public service obligation grant — effectively a government subsidy paid to airlines operating on regional routes.
Mr Cregan said 2011 was a bad year for the airport — with a €3m drop in revenue and a 19% passenger decline — which reinforced the need for the public service obligation.
"Some people up there (Dublin) believe the public service obligation should not continue, which would bring us to a critical point if that were to happen," he said.
The importance of access to Dublin could not be over -emphasised, he added.
Referring to the airport’s difficult circumstances and the state of the economy, he said they could not be complacent for one moment.
"If we are complacent, people will just write us off. We must be very, very vigilant," he went on.
Mr Cregan was replying to shareholder Phil Healy, who feared people were forgetting the vital importance of the airport to Kerry, especially at a time of high emigration.
"Do our politicians, for instance, realise how important the airport is?" Mr Healy asked.
"It would take only a small thing to put us into a situation where we might have to close it down."
Mr Cregan told the meeting that Kerry politicians had always strongly supported the airport.
In 2011, the airport’s revenue plummeted from €7.5m to €4.5m, reflecting a decision by Ryanair to pull out of the Kerry /Dublin route in the final quarter of 2010.
Aer Arann took over on the route last November, but its initial performance in passenger loads was not satisfactory, said Mr Cregan in his chairman’s statement.
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