Ireland West Airport

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Ireland West Airport

Aerfort Iarthar Éireann Mhuire
Ireland West Airport Logo.png
Knock Airport.jpg
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorConnacht Airport Development Company Ltd
ServesConnacht, Ireland
LocationCharlestown, County Mayo
Elevation AMSL665 ft / 203 m
Coordinates53°54′37″N 008°49′07″W / 53.91028°N 8.81861°W / 53.91028; -8.81861 (Horan International Airport)Coordinates: 53°54′37″N 008°49′07″W / 53.91028°N 8.81861°W / 53.91028; -8.81861 (Horan International Airport)
NOC is located in Ireland
Location of airport in Ireland
Direction Length Surface
m ft
08/26 2,340 7,700 Asphalt
Statistics (2019)
Passenger change 18-19Increase3.9%
Aircraft Movements6,330
Movements change 18-19Increase1.5%
Source: Irish AIS[1] Passengers[2]
Map of Ireland West Airport

Ireland West Airport (IATA: NOC, ICAO: EIKN) (Irish: Aerfort Iarthar Éireann Mhuire), officially known as Ireland West Airport Knock (Irish: Aerfort Iarthar Éireann Chnoc Mhuire),[3] is an international airport 5.6 km (3.48 mi) south-west of Charlestown, County Mayo, Ireland. The village of Knock is 20 km (12.43 mi) away. 750,000 passengers used the airport in 2017,[4][5] making it the fourth-busiest in the Republic of Ireland (after Dublin, Cork and Shannon).


The airport opened on 25 October 1985 with three Aer Lingus charter flights to Rome: the official opening was on 30 May 1986.[6] The site, on a hill in boggy terrain, was thought by many to be unrealistic, but the airport was built following a long and controversial campaign by Monsignor James Horan,[6] the story of which has even inspired a musical.[7] The primary motivation was for building it was to attract pilgrims to Knock Shrine. Despite criticisms that the site was too boggy and too foggy, Horan delivered an airport within five years, primarily financed by a Government grant of £9.8 million.[8] He died shortly after the opening of the airport, and his funeral was held at the then-named Horan International Airport. In recent times, Horan has been celebrated with a bronze statue erected at the airport.[9]

By 1988, over 100,000 passengers had passed through. Aer Lingus commenced flights from the airport to Birmingham in 1995.[6]

Recent years[edit]

Apron view

Since 2003, flag-carrier, low-cost and regional airlines including Aer Lingus, MyTravelLite, Bmibaby, Ryanair, Aer Arann, flybe, Lufthansa and EasyJet have added routes to the UK and mainland Europe. Not all have proven successful, but by 2005 the airport was handling 500,000 passengers per annum.[6]

It was voted the Republic of Ireland's best regional airport in 2006 and 2009 by the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland.[6]

2007 was a notable year, with scheduled transatlantic services to New York and Boston commencing in May, operated by the now-defunct Flyglobespan.[10]

A record 629,000 passengers used the airport in 2008, a 13% rise compared to the previous year.[6]

The installation of the Category II Instrument Landing System in April 2009 has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of flight diversions to other airports due to poor visibility – the airport is 200 metres above sea level.[11] August 2009 was the busiest month for three years, with 81,000 passengers: 28 August was the busiest day in the airport's history, with over 4,500 passengers.

In 2011, the month of August was the busiest in the airport's history with 84,052 passengers. 2011 was the most successful year to date with 654,553 passengers. The year saw the commencement of routes to Lanzarote, Tenerife and Gran Canaria operated by Ryanair and to Edinburgh operated by flybe.[12] During September 2011 Ryanair celebrated its four-millionth passenger through the airport, while Lufthansa announced it would be commencing weekly flights to Düsseldorf in May 2012.[13][14] In November 2011, Ryanair announced flights to Beauvais-Tillé, Frankfurt-Hahn, Bergamo-Orio al Serio and Girona-Costa Brava from March 2012. In January 2012 the 20th scheduled route was announced—flybe to Leeds, its third from the airport, from March 2012. Budget carrier BmiBaby announced in May 2012 that it was to axe its only route to Birmingham from 10 June, owing to the airline's takeover by IAG.[15] Flights to Beauvais-Tillé and Frankfurt-Hahn have since ended.

In 2013, Ryanair launched a weekly summer route to Málaga on Thursdays. Aer Lingus Regional, which took over the Birmingham route operating a daily service using ATR 72s ended service on 26 October. Flybe began four-times-weekly flights on the route on 27 October. On 31 October 2013, in response to the scrapping of the Irish travel tax, Ryanair unveiled three new routes from Knock to Glasgow-Prestwick, Kaunas and Eindhoven. However, these routes had all been withdrawn by the fourth quarter of 2014.[16]

On 16 August 2015, Aer Lingus operated its first transatlantic flight into the airport when carrying members of the Archdiocese of New York alongside Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. The Archbishop of New York subsequently opened the National Novena the following week after a tour around the entire island (all thirty-two counties). The aircraft used for the flight was a Boeing 757-200.

It was announced in November 2017 that €15 million would be invested in improving and upgrading the airport in 2018 and 2019, to coincide with strong passenger growth.[17] These plans include upgrading of car parks, passenger facilities, the terminal and resurfacing of the runway.

On Thursday 20 February 2020, the first Airbus A380 (F-HPJB) to be retired by Air France arrived from Dresden, Germany, for scrapping. The A380 was only ten years old.[18]

Government assistance[edit]

The building of the airport was primarily financed by Government grants totaling £9.858 million.[19] The completion of the airport was funded by a £1.3 million grant from the European Union, payable on condition that the airport developers provided an equal sum from their own resources.[20]

On 21 February 2007, the Government of Ireland announced that it was making a €27 million capital grant. The airport stated that it would continue the implementation of its €46 million infrastructural investment programme with over €20 million of spend anticipated for 2008.[21] Work commenced on a number of significant civil and building projects in this year. A€5.5 million extension to the terminal building was completed in April 2009. The implementation of Category II Instrument Landing System (CAT II ILS) on runway 27, to enhance reliability in low visibility, has been completed and approved. An extension to the Runway End Safety Areas (RESAs) and runway turnpad was completed in March 2009.[22]

Departing passengers aged 12 years and over pay a "Development Fee" of €10. The fee is a critical contributor to the ongoing sustainability of the airport and provides a vital funding source to support the ongoing development works of the airport.[23]

In 2005, the airport changed its name to Ireland West Airport Knock.[3] As of August 2009, the Aeronautical Information Publication, including the aeronautical charts available at European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, showed it as Ireland West.[1]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

The following airlines operate scheduled and charter flights to and from Ireland West Airport:[24]

Aer Lingus London–Gatwick (resumes 31 October 2021)[25]
Ryanair Bergamo, Bristol, Edinburgh,[26] Liverpool, London–Luton, London–Stansted, Málaga, Manchester[26]
Seasonal: Alicante, Cologne/Bonn, East Midlands, Faro, Girona (resumes 29 March 2022),[27] Palma de Mallorca

Passenger statistics[edit]

Passenger numbers[edit]

See source Wikidata query and sources.

Year Passengers
1998 186,689
1999 197,358
2000 173,421
2001 203,000
2002 199,000
2003 247,000
2004 373,000
2005 530,084
2006 621,171
2007 556,357
2008 629,000
2009 607,228
2010 589,180
2011 654,553
2012 677,368
2013 665,558
2014 703,318
2015 684,671
2016 734,031
2017 749,499
2018 771,619
2019 805,443

Busiest routes[edit]

10 busiest international routes at Knock Airport (2018)
Rank Airport Passengers
% Change
1 United Kingdom London–Stansted 155,936 Decrease01.8
2 United Kingdom London–Luton 132,739 Decrease00.3
3 United Kingdom Liverpool 84,870 Decrease00.6
4 United Kingdom London–Gatwick 82,198 Increase04.9
5 United Kingdom East Midlands 69,740 Increase05.7
6 United Kingdom Manchester 37,223 Increase025.8
7 United Kingdom Bristol 35,218 Increase027.2
8 United Kingdom Birmingham 33,164 Increase012.4
9 Portugal Faro 31,819 Decrease07.3
10 United Kingdom Edinburgh 28,381 Decrease03.3
Source: Central Statistics Office[28]

Ground transport[edit]


The airport is near the N17 road, about halfway between Galway and Sligo. It is also close to the N5 Westport to Longford road. Over 1,500 short-term and long-term parking spaces are available at the airport.

The nearest large towns, Castlebar and Ballina, are both 38 kilometres (24 mi) distant, while Sligo is 54 km (34 mi) from the airport. Galway is 89 km (55 mi) away and Dublin is 220 km (140 mi) from the airport.


Bus Éireann airport services:[29]

  • Route 64: Galway – Derry
  • Route 440: Athlone – Westport


The nearest railway stations, accessible by taxi and bus are:

The proposed reopening of the Western Rail Corridor from Claremorris onto Sligo would ultimately have closer railway access to the airport.


Ireland West Airport is serviced by specially licensed Hackneys and must be pre booked by the laws set down by the national transport authority in Ireland.[30]

Car hire[edit]

A number of international car rental companies offer rental facilities at Ireland West Airport including Budget, Avis, Europcar and Hertz.[30]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The construction of the airport is the subject of "Knock Song" by Irish folk singer-songwriter Christy Moore.[31]
  • The musical "On a Wing and a Prayer" deals with the life and times of Monsignor Horan, focusing on his struggle to get the airport built. It premièred in The Royal Theatre, Castlebar, on 25 November 2010.[32]
  • The airport was recently used in the up and coming film Wild Mountain Thyme in October 2019.[33]


  1. ^ a b EIKN – IRELAND WEST (PDF). AIP and charts from the Irish Aviation Authority.
  2. ^ "AVIATION STATISTICS QUARTER 4 AND YEAR 2019". Central Statistics Office. 16 April 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b News, The Mayo. "Knock airport defends new 'brand identity'". Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  4. ^ "About Us. Aviation Statistics". Ireland West Airport. 8 January 2018. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Knock Airport records highest ever passenger numbers". Irish Examiner. 8 January 2018. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "History of Ireland West Airport Knock". Ireland West Airport Knock. Archived from the original on 27 April 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  7. ^ "The Remarkable Life Story of Monsignor James Horan". Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  8. ^ Oireachtas, Houses of the (14 February 1985). "Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Knock Airport. – Dáil Éireann (24th Dáil) – Thursday, 14 Feb 1985 – Houses of the Oireachtas".
  9. ^ "Mayo tribute: Msgr James Horan remembered". Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  10. ^ "New scheduled flights to New York & Boston commence!". 31 May 2007. Archived from the original on 5 December 2007.
  11. ^ "Investment of €3.6 million undertaken to complete two major projects". 19 August 2009. Archived from the original on 18 October 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Ireland West Airport Knock - Over 81,000 passengers use the Airport in August". Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  13. ^ "Ryanair celebrates 4 million passengers on Knock flights". September 2011.
  14. ^ "Lufthansa to start Knock Airport service". RTÉ News. 14 September 2011.
  15. ^ "Ryanair announces major European expansion from Ireland West Airport Knock". Archived from the original on 18 October 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  16. ^ "Ryanair route map | Our European destinations".
  17. ^ "Ireland West Airport embarks on €15m investment phase of terminal enhancements and Runway upgrade works". Ireland West Airport Knock. 20 November 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  18. ^ "Air France's First Retired Airbus A380 Completes Its Final Flight". Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  19. ^ Oireachtas, Houses of the (2 February 1988). "Dáil Éireann debate - Tuesday, 2 Feb 1988".
  20. ^ Oireachtas, Houses of the (30 June 1988). "Dáil Éireann debate - Thursday, 30 Jun 1988".
  21. ^ "Immigration unit to open at Knock". Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  22. ^ "Ireland West Airport Knock". Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  23. ^ "Development Fee". Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  24. ^ "Destinations". Ireland West Airport Knock. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  25. ^ "Aer Lingus Timetables". Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  26. ^ a b "Ryanair launches two new routes from Knock to the UK". The Connaught Telegraph. 24 March 2021.
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Passenger Movement by Irish Airport, Direction, Foreign Airport and Month". Central Statistics Office. December 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  29. ^ "Ireland West - Knock". Bus Éireann. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  30. ^ a b "Directions & Transport". Ireland West Airport Knock. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  31. ^ "The Knock Song lyrics and guitar chords". Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  32. ^ "". Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  33. ^ "'On A Wing and a Prayer' – The Musical'". 4 October 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2020.

External links[edit]

Media related to Ireland West Airport Knock at Wikimedia Commons