By Siobhán Holliman, Tuam Herald.
THE West of Ireland’s international airports say the opening of the M17-M18 motorway will be a huge benefit to increasing passenger numbers and will make the region more attractive for tourists and potential employers.
The new route will provide a significant boost for both airports, cutting the journey time from Galway by 15 to 20 minutes both to Ireland West Airport Knock and Shannon Airport.
Matthew Thomas, Shannon Group CEO, described the opening of the 53km route as one of the most important pieces of infrastructure developed for Galway and the West of Ireland for many years. He believes it presents many opportunities for the region, especially for Tuam.
“The new motorway is a long awaited stimulus for Tuam, Galway, the wider West of Ireland region and, indeed, for our own (Shannon Airport) ability to positively impact those areas,” Mr. Thomas told The Tuam Herald.
“Having motorway access all the way to Tuam will reinforce the area’s attractiveness to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies, strengthen the economic corridor between Galway and Limerick and act as a stimulus for effective regional development.
“We know that good air connectivity is an essential part of the armoury for job creation efforts. It’s one of the first things FDI companies look for and this enhanced level of proximity to Shannon International Airport will increase the area’s potential to win further investment. For FD]I companies looking to establish a European base, proximity to an international airport allows them move goods and their people to the marketplace quickly, and having the on your doorstep can be a game changer,” added the airport CEO.
The motorway route will make the airport more accessible for holidaymakers from the West going abroad and those coming here.
While it’s not known as yet what impact the route will have on commuters from North Galway to Galway, it will ease the journey for the many Co Galway people who travel to the Shannon Free Zone to work each day.
“Undoubtedly the motorway reduces travel times to Shannon Airport, shaving up to 20 minutes off current travel time.
“For the many people from Co. Galway coming to work each day in the Shannon Free Zone, the completion of the motorway will make their lives a lot easier as well,” added Mr. Thomas.
Last year over 70,000 Galway residents flew from Ireland West Airport Knock and easier and quicker access via the Tuam bypass and motorway will help further boost passenger numbers there.
Close to 100,000 overseas visitors visit the Galway region annually as part of their trip to the West after flying into Ireland West Airport, which the airport says provides an economic boost of over €30 million annually to the Galway region.
Joe Gilmore, Managing Director, Ireland West Airport, said, “Not only will the completion of the motorway improve the transport infrastructure along the Western corridor, but the shorter journey time will make our airport even more convenient for the people of Galway, providing even easier access to our network of 24 international destinations, including the biggest selection of UK services available from the West of Ireland.”