Ireland West Airport Knock has enjoyed a record breaking year, with passenger numbers exceeding 700,000 for the first time in the airport’s 29 year history.
The number of passengers using the airport increased by over 38,000 to 703,324 – an increase of 5.7% on 2013 – meaning it now serves over 20 international destinations and is served by three of Europe’s major international airlines, Aer Lingus, Flybe and Ryanair.
August 2014 also saw the airport experience its busiest ever month with a total of 102,774 passengers passing through the terminal – the first time in the 28 year history that over 100,000 passengers have used the airport in a calendar month.
The year 2014 saw a major increase in traffic to/from the UK, which represents the airports biggest market, with traffic up 9.4% on 2013 numbers.
Particularly strong performers were Ryanair’s London services to Stansted and Luton, which carried an extra 44,000 passengers (up 20%), whilst Aer Lingus’ London Gatwick service grew by 6%. Flybe services to Manchester and Birmingham, also performed strongly with passenger numbers up 9% across both routes.
And its position as a gateway to the west was underlined recently as seven local authorities – including both Galway City and County Councils – have approved in principle to take an investment in the airport. They are joined by Councils in Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Roscommon and Mayo.
In addition, a number of important safety and security upgrades were carried out at the airport in 2014 including the installation of an airport wide CCTV system, costing €200,000, across the entire airport facility providing enhanced security and safety measures for passengers and staff at the airport, whilst a €1.7m upgrade of the Runway End Safety Area and aircraft turning circle was completed in 2014 to meet existing regulatory requirements.
“We are delighted to have had a record year in 2014 with record numbers on almost all of our services, highlighting the airports importance as the main international gateway for the West & North West of Ireland and indeed the Wild Atlantic Way,” said Joe Gilmore, Managing Director at Ireland West Airport Knock.
Galway App company Booniverse plans pivotal communication role during COVID-19 emergency
The Booniverse Town App (Xplore, Galway App) is a free to download app created with the initial concept of imparting information on local attractions, events, shopping, accommodation, hikes and trails, cultural and historical information as well as tourist information.
With the arrival of Covid-19, Booniverse has been working in collaboration with The Wild Geese, an East Galway Task Force, co-founded by Deputy Anne Rabbitte, TD for East Galway and Elodie Golden, an experienced digital project manager, to expand the app as a trusted digital tool for communication during the crisis.
According to Deputy Rabbitte: “Our mission was simple, to solve the challenges faced by our rural towns, villages, and communities who were on their knees, from town to town, village to village, community to community.
The Wild Geese community team consists of seasoned leaders and volunteers with a fervent and passionate interest in the renewal of the main towns and villages of East Galway. They have been working very closely with Booniverse Limited over the past 18 months with a view to creating a digital infrastructure for the towns of East Galway, onboarding the towns, villages and communities onto this unique digital ecosystem conceived, created and nurtured by the Galway-based Booniverse Limited.
Elodie Golden said: “Since the COVID-19 crisis began, it quickly became apparent to me that a robust digital infrastructure built over 9 years, on battle-tested technologies and frameworks, could play a pivotal role as an important trusted digital tool for communication during the crisis.”
Deputy Anne Rabbitte said: “I quickly realised the benefits of adopting the town and community app to the Public Health Emergency making it easier for government agencies and locals to communicate swiftly, securely and with tailored messages to our towns, villages and communities”.
Deputy Rabbitte continued: “In particular, the opportunity was there for state bodies such as the Irish Government, HSE, Garda Siochana, County Council to have secure access to the dashboard, to send tailored push notifications to all or to a selected number of locations on behalf of stakeholders”.
“On the community level, access would be available for communities to publish local content, create and share timely, accurate informative updates to volunteer initiatives, news articles, list essential business listings, volunteer services open in the community featuring turn by turn navigation and one-touch call and email”
Deputy Rabbitte concluded “I envisage the roll-out of the community app in two phases. Phase 1: Covid-19 Emergency and Phase 2: Covid-19 Recovery when all of the retail, hike and trails, tourism features are turned back on and businesses are supported digitally in getting back on their feet. The app is ready to scale with an experienced digital team behind it, to drive it forward and support our communities in and agile and expeditious manner.”
Talks are currently at advanced stages to roll out the platform to every county in Ireland and moving the Galway App to Xplore which will allow users, regardless of where they are, to download the one app and from there, users simply enable location services or select a region to stay local. The Xplore app is also available currently for a number of Munster towns having been rolled out in conjunction with McCarthy Insurance Group and local Credit Unions.
Athenry Credit Union’s goodwill gesture to customers
Members of Athenry Credit Union had been expecting to pay fees for the Current Accounts service for the quarter just ended – but to support their members during this Covid-19 Pandemic, CU management has decided to refund the automatically applied quarterly fees.
Earlier this year, Athenry Credit Union launched a full-service Current Account with a globally accepted Mastercard Debit Card that boasts Contactless Payments, Standing Orders, Direct Debits, and the option of an Overdraft facility.
“The Credit Union has always been member-focused, during these times of uncertainty we need to support our members and help them get through this difficult period,” explained Athenry Credit Union CEO Tony Dennis.
“We had to make the difficult decision to reduce in-branch visits due to the recent outbreaks of Covid-19 in Ireland.
“We pride ourselves on offering award-winning customer service and being on hand to assist members with in-branch transactions.
“I would encourage members to utilise our Online Banking and Banking App which offers an array of excellent services online that include the ability for members to transfer money internally and externally, online loan application facility, the ability to lodge money to accounts using any Irish debit card and much more,” he added.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Local papers call on Government for additional support
As the financial pressures mount on local newspapers, the President of Local Ireland David Ryan has called on the Government here to urgently adopt the Danish subsidy model to ensure that local newspapers like the Connacht Tribune can survive the catastrophic revenue declines incurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Local and national news publishers are the cornerstone of our democracy. During this time of crisis, it is important that our communities are served by trusted and critical media that can provide credible information and address the major challenges facing every community,” said Mr Ryan.
“The enormous loss of advertising revenue and circulation declines are unsustainable and, unless there is urgent government support forthcoming, some of our trusted news brands are in danger of closing,” he said.
Under the Danish model newspapers recording advertising revenue declines of 30% to 50% in March, April and May, year on year, will receive compensation up to the equivalent of 60% of their loss. Compensation scales up to an equivalent of 80% of the amount for those suffering 50% to 100% loss. This compensation applies to both print and digital newspapers.
Emphasising the urgency of Government intervention to assist the sector, David Ryan said; “Local Ireland is the representative association for 46 weekly paid for local newspapers, and its members publish 90% of the weekly paid for trusted local news across the 26 counties.
“The majority of newspapers represented have been publishing for over 120 years and are the recognised and respected news brands in the communities they serve”.
Local Ireland has partnered with An Post to deliver a subsidised postal service for local newspapers to those who are in self-isolation, lonely and the vulnerable in our communities.