State purchase of Connemara airport ‘imminent’

State purchase of Connemara airport ‘imminent’
Aran Islands.

The State is in the final stages of purchasing Aerfort Na Minna in Connemara in order to secure long-term connectivity to the Aran Islands.

However, no price has been attached to the deal and a government spokesperson could not provide any information on how much is to be paid for the airport.

Aer Arann Islands, a division of Aer Arann, currently operates from the airport, which is 28km west of Galway City, with regular flights to Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, and Inis Oírr.

Minister of State for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht, and the Islands, Seán Kyne, yesterday briefed the Cabinet on the sale. It is understood the signing of contracts is “imminent”, meaning the purchase will be complete in the coming weeks.

Given the considerable amount of public money involved in the purchase, the Department of Culture which will foot the bill, recently put froward a business case which was accepted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The airport is currently owned by Galway Aviation Services Limited, a company owned by Aer Arann founder and senator Pádraig O Céidigh.

Accessibility to and from the Aran Islands has been the subject of controversy in recent times and last year Mr Ó Céidigh offered to sell the airline for €1 to the Aran Island communities during what had been an ongoing dispute with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht over its Public Service Obligation contract.

Separately, a member of the Air Corps is to be sent to Kosovo to take up a temporary post as an air traffic controller at the Kosovo Force (KFOR) mission.

It is hoped this will incentivise the retention of skilled Air Corps personnel. The temporary post will increase the number of Irish personnel deployed to the KFOR mission to 13.

Mr Kehoe brought this information as part of a memo to Cabinet seeking to renew the Defence Force’s mandate in the EU-led operation ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It is proposed to continue to provide five members of the permanent Defence Force for service with the mission for a further period of 12 months.


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