Travellers arriving at Knock airport spent €35 million in Galway last year according to a report delivered to Galway City council this week.
The report said that more than 200,000 visitors came to the Galway region through Knock Airport last year, amounting to over 100,000 bed nights.
Galway city council is one of seven local councils with a stake in Knock airport along with Galway, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Letrim, and Donegal county councils.
Joseph Gilmore, Managing Director of Ireland West Airport at Knock delivered the report on Knock airport’s performance in 2017 and its projections for this year.
Crucially Mr. Gilmore pointed that half of those visitors were here on holidays rather than visiting family, and 45% of visitors made use of local hotels or other guest accommodation.
The UK accounts for the majority of visitors, with London alone accounting for a full quarter of people coming to Galway.
A further 10% of arrivals came from Milan, making it the largest source of overseas travellers from outside the UK.
Issues affecting future development of Knock airport
Councillor Ollie Crowe remarked that Knock airport seems to be, “fairly dependent on the UK market.” and asked Mr. Gilmore if any study had been done on the possible impact of Brexit on passenger numbers.
Mr. Gilmore said that they do have a strategy to account for damage from Brexit, but that the worst case projections for Dublin show only a temporary 10% drop in traffic.
Bus connectivity was a topic of some concern, there are currently six daily bus services between Galway and Knock airport along Expressway route 64.
This is far better than when there was no bus service, “even though it passed by our door.” Mr. Gilmore said, though he added that they would like to see the bus schedules match flight times.
Councillor Frank Fahy asked if any approach had been made to a private bus service, noting that there isn’t enough room on the six services, “If a bus comes and it’s full, that’s not a service.”
According to Mr. Gilmore, airport management have met with private bus operators and it’s hoped that they will have an additional service up and running this summer.
He added they’re always open to being approached by businesses who’d like to run a service out to the airport, “It’s an open marketplace for private operators to come in.”