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Waterford airport aims to lure international flights with major runway expansion plan | BreakingNews.ie

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An investment of €12 million has been announced for Waterford Airport, as part of an overall plan that could see the south-east becoming a major player in air tourism into the country.

The funding announcement was made at City Hall in Waterford on Friday by Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath TD, and William Bolster, Executive of Waterford Airport.

The airport is to receive €12 million in private sector investment by the Comer Group International, in partnership with Bolster Group, to develop a major runway expansion plan.

The aim of developing the runway will be to enable the airport and the south-east region to access international flights to-and-from Ireland.

An overall investment plan valued at up to €30 million has been agreed by Comer Group International, with the Waterford Airport’s expansion its first large investment in the south-east of Ireland.

About half of the overall funding comes from the deal with the Comer Group, led by Waterford-based investor and business leader, William Bolster.

The inital investment means the remainder can now be sought from a process beginning with central and local Government funding.

Construction, flooring, and engineering firm, Bolster Group has been driving forward the development of Waterford Airport since commercial flights last operated from the site in 2016.

Company executives say the deal represents a major vote of confidence in Waterford and will create jobs and boost economic growth.

The new runway will have the capacity to service large and mid-range airliners such as the widely used Airbus 320s. It will also enable summer and winter holiday destinations across Europe.

It’s expected flights from the airport to London will begin towards the end of 2024 with other destinations to follow.

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, welcomed the announcement which he said is “hugely important for Waterford and the South East Region”.

“An extended runway would really help to boost the whole region’s international connectivity, benefitting both Irish and international passengers for years to come,” he said.

“I’ve been a long supporter of Waterford Airport since my time as Minister for Transport and as Taoiseach,” he added.

“The previous Government made the decision to match funding for the runway project once the private investment was secured, albeit at a lower level of €5 million. As I said recently in Waterford, the principle of matched funding remains, subject to the business case being agreed. Further Exchequer funding will be required, and I urge all parties to progress the business case as soon as possible.”

In a joint statement in Waterford, Comer Group Director, Luke Comer and William Bolster, Executive of Waterford Airport, said: “Those local to the area have had to travel to Dublin or Cork to catch flights over the last seven years and the time absolutely felt right to bring the airport back to life with much needed investment and put Waterford firmly back on the international map.”

Announcing the new investment, Mr McGrath said: “An extension to the runway would make the South East an increasingly attractive destination for both leisure and business travelers from overseas. Similarly, it will make it easier for people across the region to travel internationally.

“This has the potential to boost economic growth in the region in the decade ahead and complement significant investment already planned for Waterford including in urban regeneration and the South East Technological University.”

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