Knock gets €40m from the State

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS -

To­tal State spend­ing on the fa­cil­i­ties at Knock Air­port is head­ing for €40 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s lat­est fig­ures. Ac­counts for Con­naught Air­port De­vel­op­ment Com­pany Ltd show that by De­cem­ber 31st last year, tax­payer fund­ing for cap­i­tal projects at Knock had hit €36.9 mil­lion since it opened in May 1986.

This in­cluded €1.965 mil­lion given to the air­port com­pany last year. That was sep­a­rate from the €868,569 re­ceived un­der a Govern­ment pro­gramme that pro­vides grants to­wards op­er­a­tional costs to re­gional air­ports.

Knock Air­port spent the near €40 mil­lion it re­ceived from the State over 30 years on build­ings, equip­ment, run­way up­grades, im­prove­ments to safety and se­cu­rity and so on. Ac­cord­ing to the ac­counts, those as­sets were worth €19.5 mil­lion at the end of last year.

That does not mean that tax­pay­ers have taken a €20 mil­lion hit on their “in­vest­ment” in Knock. All it means is that their value has been writ­ten down in ac­cor­dance with ac­count­ing rules. If some­body were to buy the air­port in the morn­ing, they could well value the build­ings, run­way and so for forth at a lot more, or a lot less, than €19.5 mil­lion.

Last Au­gust in this news­pa­per, Knock’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Joe Gil­more (above), out­lined the re­turn that tax­pay­ers got for the money that they have spent on the air­port down through the years.

“If you look for value for money, this air­port has thrown off €140 mil­lion in tourism rev­enue to the re­gion, 200 jobs, one mil­lion bed nights and 6,000 down­stream jobs ev­ery year,” he said.

On the face of it, that seems a de­cent re­turn. How­ever, EU rules are chang­ing the terms un­der which mem­ber states can sup­port re­gional air­ports. Knock and the oth­ers are go­ing to see the tap at least partly switched off in the fu­ture.

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