Waterford City Fine Gael Senator John Cummins has confirmed €12 million in private sector investment to develop the runway extension at Waterford Airport.
Cummins who is a former member of the board at Waterford Airport announced confirmation of €12 million in private sector investment by Comer Group International in partnership with the Bolster Group to develop.
The significant development now clears the way for the business plan seeking matching funding to be submitted to the Department of Transport, which is expected to be sent early next week.
The investment by Comer Group International is led by Galway-based billionaires, the Comer Brothers. This investment will pave the way for the return of commercial flights from Waterford for the first time since 2016.
Senator Cummins said: “This is a very welcome development. I have been kept up to date on how these negotiations were advancing over the last number of months by William Bolster and Michael Walsh, and I believe huge credit must go to them, chairman Dan Browne, the board, and management at the Airport for bringing about this very significant funding commitment by the private sector.
“The next step is to take the business case to the Department, and I expect it will be very well received by government. I have constantly liaised with the Taoiseach on this matter since I was on the board of the airport. He has been a vocal supporter of our goal to develop a runway in the South East capable of servicing the main aircrafts of choice by most major airlines, B737’s and A320’s.
As recently as the 30th September at Fine Gael’s Small Business & Enterprise Conference held in the SETU Arena, the Taoiseach restated his commitment to the principle of 50:50 funding.
When questioned on WLRFM about the doubts expressed by some at the prospect of developing a commercially viable proposition at Waterford Airport, the Taoiseach was very clear in saying "maybe it is viable. We haven’t seen the business plan from the airport but if it is viable, I think we should support it. We made a commitment in the last government to provide €5 million funding which was to be matched by the private sector."
The senator added: "The cost of everything has gone up as we know so that 50:50 principle in my mind still stands and I think the real advantage there is the potential to have a direct link from London to the Southeast which would be hugely valuable from both a business and tourism perspective for lots of reasons’”.
Senator Cummins added “For my part, I will continue my engagement with the Taoiseach on this critically important project for Waterford and the South East region. As was the case ahead of the 2019 cabinet decision, I will also liaise with my Fine Gael ministerial colleagues to ensure their full support should a proposal be brought to cabinet and I am certain other Waterford Oireachtas members will do likewise with their respective parties”.
“I have always believed in the ability of Waterford Airport to offer the essential direct connectivity to the region that we require to grow our business and tourism offer. The runway expansion project ticks a huge number of boxes and would undoubtedly drive the propulsive growth envisaged for Waterford in the National Planning Framework”, concluded Senator Cummins.
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