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Ireland West Airport Knock

Ireland West Airport Knock (Aerfort Chonnachta) , is an airport located 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) south of Charlestown, County Mayo, Ireland. 621,171 passengers used the airport in 2006. The airport was formerly known as Knock International Airport, Connacht Regional Airport, and Horan International Airport. Connaught Aero Club and Shoreline Aviation are based at the airport.

History and landmark events

The airport opened for flights on 20 May 1986 following a long campaign by Monsignor James Horan. The airport was intended to bring employment to an impoverished corner of Ireland, as well as allow pilgrims to visit the nearby Roman Catholic Knock Shrine which commemorates an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1879.

In March 2003 MyTravelLite launched flights linking Knock with Birmingham and celebrated 100,000 passengers on the route in April 2004 but terminated the route the following year in April 2005.

In March 2004 Bmibaby launched services to Manchester and East Midlands, the latter being terminated later, but more recently reinstated through new flights launched by Ryanair.

In June 2003 hundreds of people gathered at Knock International Airport to view a Boeing 747 land with 500 returning pilgrims from Lourdes. The aircraft stood as high as the airport's air traffic control tower. It was the second of its type to land at Knock.

Aer Arann launched Knock to Liverpool flights in June 2004, but terminated the service in 2005 after losing the Dublin Public Service Obligation route. In January 2005 Ryanair and easyJet launched flights to London Gatwick Airport and carried 140,000 passengers. Easyjet left all Irish airports in October 2006, and Ryanair terminated their Gatwick service. Bmibaby launched a service to Birmingham.

Knock was voted Ireland's best regional airport in 2004 and again in 2006 by the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland.

2007 was a record year for the airport, with scheduled flyglobespan transatlantic services to New York and Boston commenced during May 2007, operated by Scottish airline Flyglobespan, however both routes have since been discontinued. Ryanair also commenced new services to Bristol and East Midlands, and a link to London Gatwick was reinstated during December 2007 operated by XL Airways, six days per week. In April 2008 Ryanair commenced an additional 6 day a week service to London Stansted. On the 12th of September 2008XL Airways ceased trading.

In 2007 557,000 passengers used the airport, a drop of 10% since 2006, making Knock and Shannon the only airports in Ireland to record a reduction in passenger numbers during the period.

Michael O'Leary Chief Executive of Ryanair said on the 16 July 2008 to the joint committee on Transport which was considering access to the regions outside Dublin and the price of fuel that "there was no future for airports at Donegal, Galway, Sligo, Waterford and that Knock was pretty flakey".

CityJet refused to take up the PSO route to Dublin on the 17 July 2008 and Aer Arann recommenced the route on the 1st of October 2008.

There are also free Wireless Internet Network services available for passengers.

Airlines and destinations

Scheduled flights

  • Aer Arann (Dublin)
  • Bmibaby (Birmingham, Glasgow-International, Manchester)
  • Ryanair (Bristol, East Midlands, Liverpool [begins 27 October], London-Luton, London-Stansted)

Charter flights

The following seasonal charter flights operate at the airport:

Ground transportation

A shuttle bus service between the airport and Charlestown (3.1 mi/5 km) links with regular intercity and regional services of the Bus Éireann network. A bus service also operates between Westport, County Mayo and the airport. Shuttle bus services also operate to Claremorris railway station, and car hire is available at the airport.

Government assistance

On 21 February 2007, the Irish Government announced that it was giving €27 million of capital grant money to Ireland West Airport.

The Airport has stated that it will continue the implementation of its €46million infrastructural investment programme with over €20 million of spend anticipated for 2008. Work will commence on a number of significant civil and building projects in this year. A €5.5 million extension to the terminal building commenced in July 2008. A extension to the apron will see this more than double in size has commenced. The implementation of Category II Instrumentation Landing Systems (CAT II ILS)on runway 27, which will enhance the reliability of the Airport in low visibility conditions, is due for completion at the end of the year along with an extension to the Runway Ends Safety Areas (RESAs) and runway turnpad.

Incidents and accidents

  • On 23 March 2006 a Ryanair Boeing 737-800 "only marginally avoided controlled flight into terrain", during an approach to the airport following a flight from London Gatwick, according to the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit. An unbriefed descent, as the pilots fixated on reprogramming for a new approach, meant they arrived over the airport at 410 ft with landing gear and flaps up. The aircraft landed successfully following a second approach attempt.

Name

In 2005 the airport changed its name to Ireland West Airport Knock. However, as of January 2007 the Aeronautical Information Publication, including the aeronautical charts available at European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation still shows as Connaught Airport.

External links

References

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