A FACEBOOK campaign to bring domestic flights to St Angelo Airport has taken off, with nearly 5,000 people supporting the ambitious plans.
Maguiresbridge man Peter Martin , who lives in London and works as a gas engineer, is the brains behind the idea and has set up the group to see if commercial flights can again return to the Enniskillen Airport.
Speaking to the Herald Peter explained the idea for the campaign came when he was travelling on the bus from Dublin to Fermanagh.
“It got me thinking of people going on that bus up and down for flights and things started from there, why not have flights out of St Angelo?”
“I don’t think we’re at a level yet where people will take notice, but we’re getting people talking and if we keep at it and get more people involved we will hopefully shine more light on it. I thought I would plant the seed on Facebook and see what kind of feedback we get.”
Peter believes that flights from St Angelo would have far reaching benefits for the people in the county and with to date 4,774 likes on the Facebook group it seems he is not alone.
“A huge amount of people would benefit from this. People like myself , even people travelling to London for work, it would help stop the brain drain, would be useful for people going to university and would benefit tourism in the area. How many people from Fermanagh went to Spain this year for example?”
“If we get enough awareness we can raise the issue with management of an airline.
We’re not going to be a Heathrow, it would be a couple of flights a week and maybe fly into places like London, Manchester, Liverpool, you’re talking about the places with the big populations and where the interest is. If it were to happen there would also be a knock on effect with jobs in the area in the form of taxi services, airport staff, car hire. It would definitely help Fermanagh, this is a remote area and this would definitely open it up.”
So far the feedback received has been ‘fantastic’ and Peter has grand plans to take the petition to a higher level.
“I have made contact with some of the hotels in the area and some of the MLAs and they think it is a fantastic idea. There are a few people though living around the area who weren’t too happy to hear about it, which is fair enough, but we will see what happens and take it from there.”
The plan for Peter at this early stage is to garner enough support so that a petition could be sent to MLAs and then make contact with a smaller airline such as Flybe to see if some form of service from Enniskillen Airport is viable.
…but airport director
says he’s in the dark
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR at Enniskillen Airport has revealed he has had no contact regarding plans to introduce domestic flights in the county.
A Facebook group was set up last week to petition for flights from St Angelo Airport, yet Alan Cathcart, managing director at Enniskillen Airport Ltd has had no contact with group creator Peter Martin.
“I have no idea about this at all, no one has had the decency of contacting me as managing director of Enniskillen Airport Ltd about this Facebook page. I think that’s disgusting.”
Mr Cathcart, who has been managing director at the airport for the past 12 years said he would be happy to meet regarding the Facebook campaign, but stated his disappointment at not being consulted originally.
“I think it’s common decency if you’re going to do something you come to the person who’s involved in it. I’ll speak to him.”
When asked if domestic flights was a viable option at Enniskillen Airport Mr Cathcart was quick to highlight the substantial investment over the last 10 years.
“We have a lot of plans, a lot of developments; An air ambulance, we’re working at it and a lot of different things. We employ a lot of people, we’re doing a lot of work and I myself have invested an awful lot of money in to this airport. My investment is not there for the fun of it.”
Mr Cathcart did however state the runway would be capable of handling commercial airlines such as the ones used by Flybe at Belfast City Airport. At present the runway is used for training , business flights, private charter flights and the air ambulance service.
“We have had in the past commercial airlines (Bombardier) Dash 8s which are currently used from the City Airport to London. The runway is there, it is in good enough shape, but there’s more than just a runway to operate commercial flights a lot of additional investment is required. I’m in the dark unless this guy has a bucketload of money to invest.”
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