Ireland’s Waterford airport is looking to reopen to airlines with an extended runway as part of a €30 million investment.
The new runway will have the capacity to handle aircraft such as widely used Airbus A320s.
The development plans will see summer and winter holiday destinations across Europe being linked to Waterford for the first time since 2016.
London is set to be the first destination as early as the end of 2024 with others to follow.
The only airport located in the southeast of Ireland opened in 1985 with Ryanair’s inaugural flight departing for Gatwick.
It currently serves as a base for the Irish Coastguard helicopter search and rescue service.
UK property company Comer Group International and local firm Bolster Group have joined forces to deliver the runway extension.
The investment means the remainder can now be sought from a process to begin 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.
Comer Group director Luke Comer and William Bolster, executive of Waterford airport, said in a joint statenent: “We are delighted to announce the runway expansion, which will reopen up travel to the UK and European destinations all year round.
“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.
“We believe this expansion will be welcome news for locals, driving tourism and business opportunities, as well as the Irish population who have made their home in the UK.
“It will be a real game changer in terms of bringing back travel to the region”.
Irish Taoiseach [prime minister] Leo Varadkar said: “This significant private investment is hugely important for Waterford and the southeast 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.
“I’ve been a long supporter of Waterford airport since my time as minister for transport and as Taoiseach. 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.
“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.
“Improved connectivity through Waterford airport would make the southeast an even more attractive place in which to live, work, do business and raise a family. It would also help to open up this beautiful region to many more visitors.”