The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, has today (Wednesday) announced that he has approved the payment of just over €2million to the regional airports under the current Regional Airports Programme.

That funding is in respect of subvention payments in 2014 for Core Airport Management Operational Expenditure (OPEX). The OPEX Scheme compensates regional airports for eligible costs incurred in providing core airports services, insofar as they cannot be fully recovered from non-core income derived from activities such as restaurants, bars, parking and so forth.

Today’s approved funding will bring the total financial supports paid by the Exchequer under the Regional Airports Programme to nearly €13million in 2014.

Under the current Programme, which ends this year, the Exchequer provides financial support to Donegal, Kerry, IWA Knock, and Waterford  under three main schemes –

·         A Core Airport Management Operational Expenditure Subvention (OPEX) Scheme

·         A Regional Airports Capital Expenditure Grant (CAPEX) Scheme, and

·         A Public Service Obligation (PSO) air services Scheme.

Payments under the PSO Scheme are made directly to the carrier, while OPEX and CAPEX payments are made to the airports (see further details in respect of payments below). Over the lifetime of the current Programme, which commenced in 2011, over €60million will have been paid by the Exchequer under the three schemes.

As the current Programme ends this year, Ireland has submitted its Draft Regional Airports Programme for 2015 – 2019 to the EU Commission for consideration and discussions are currently taking place on the Programme as part of that consideration process. Following its approval, the overall supports that will be available to each of the four regional airports over the life of the new Programme will be identified.

In approving today’s OPEX payments under the current Programme, Minister Donohoe said: "The Government’s aim is to give regional airports the opportunity beyond 2014 to grow to a viable, self-sustaining position, particularly considering the contribution that they make to their regional and local economy. As a result, Exchequer support for the four regional airports will be continued beyond 2014. The decision to continue providing these necessary supports will facilitate the airports in developing and implementing new business plans leading to self-sufficiency within a ten year period. Central to these will be the need for regional and local business investment."

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