Ireland West Airport

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Ireland West Airport
Aerfort Iarthar Éireann Mhuire
Ireland West Airport Logo.png
Knock Airport.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Connacht Airport Development Company Ltd
Serves Connacht, Ireland
Location Charlestown, County Mayo
Elevation AMSL 665 ft / 203 m
Coordinates 53°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 (2017)
Passengers 749,499
Passenger change 16-17 Increase2.1%
Aircraft Movements 6,022
Movements change 16-17 Decrease0.9%
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 airport 5.6 km (3.5 miles) south-west of Charlestown, County Mayo, Ireland. The village of Knock is 20 km (12.5 miles) away. In 2017, 750,000 passengers used the airport[4][5], making it the fourth busiest in 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 spawned a musical.[7] At the time of construction, the primary motivation was for pilgrims to Knock Shrine. Despite criticisms that the site was too boggy and too foggy, Monsignor Horan delivered an airport within five years, primarily financed by a Government grant of £9.8 million.[8] Monsignor Horan died shortly after the opening of the airport, and his funeral was held at the then named Horan International Airport. In recent times, Monsignor Horan has been celebrated with a bronze statue erected at the airport.

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

On 1 June 2003, hundreds of people gathered to view an Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747 land with 500 returning pilgrims from Lourdes.[9]

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 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]

In 2008 a record 629,000 passengers used the airport, 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 Malaga 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.

Government assistance[edit]

The building of the airport was primarily financed by Government grants totaling £9.858 million.[18] 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.[19]

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.[citation needed] 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. An extension to the apron, that will see it more than double in size, has commenced. 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 2008.[citation needed]

Departing passengers aged 12 years and over pay a "Development Fee" of €10. The fee is highly controversial, because the "development costs" from 1986 are generally thought to have been paid off many years ago.[citation needed]

In 2005, the airport changed its name to Ireland West Airport Knock, and in November 2017, changed again to Ireland West Airport[3]. As of August 2009, the Aeronautical Information Publication, including the aeronautical charts available at European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, show it as Ireland West.[1]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

The following airlines operate scheduled and charter flights to and from Ireland West Airport:[20]

Aer Lingus London–Gatwick
Flybe Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester
Ryanair Bristol, East Midlands, Lanzarote, Liverpool, London–Luton, London–Stansted
Seasonal: Alicante, Bergamo, Faro, Girona, Málaga, Tenerife–South

Passenger statistics[edit]

Passenger numbers[edit]

Ireland West Airport passenger totals 2000-2017 (thousands)
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

Busiest routes[edit]

10 busiest international routes at Knock Airport (2017)
Rank Airport Passengers
% Change
1 United Kingdom London Stansted 158,854 Decrease01.2
2 United Kingdom London Luton 133,132 Increase01.5
3 United Kingdom Liverpool 85,416 Increase03.2
4 United Kingdom London Gatwick 78,329 Increase03.5
5 United Kingdom East Midlands 66,003 Decrease02.3
6 Portugal Faro 34,312 Decrease00.3
7 United Kingdom Manchester 29,586 Decrease02.4
8 United Kingdom Birmingham 29,511 Increase026.3
9 United Kingdom Edinburgh 29,356 Increase050.6
10 United Kingdom Bristol 27,680 Decrease04.0
Source: Central Statistics Office[21]

Ground transportation[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) away, while the nearest large urban centre, Sligo, is 54 kilometres (34 mi) from the airport. Galway city is 89 km (55 mi) away and Dublin, irelands capital city is around 220 km (140 mi) from the airport.


Bus Éireann services from/to the airport:

  • Route 64: Galway – Derry[22]
  • Route 438: Ballina – Ireland West Airport Knock[23]
  • Route 440: Athlone – Westport[24]


The nearest railway stations are Ballyhaunis (22 km/13.7 miles), Foxford (27 km/16.8 miles), Claremorris (31 km/19.3 miles) & Ballymote (33km/20.5 miles), accessible by taxi and bus.


Ireland West Knock airport is serviced by specially licensed taxis, and are available outside the Terminal or can be pre-booked.[25]

Car hire[edit]

A number of international car rental companies offer rental facilities at Ireland West Knock Airport including Budget, Avis, Europcar and Hertz.[25]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On 23 March 2006, a Ryanair Boeing 737-800 "only marginally avoided controlled flight into terrain", during an approach on a flight from London Gatwick, according to the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit. An unbriefed descent while the flight crew concentrated on reprogramming for a new approach meant they arrived over the airport at 410 ft with landing gear and flaps up. The aircraft landed successfully at a second approach attempt.[26]


  • The construction of the airport is the subject of "Knock Song" by Irish folk singer-songwriter Christy Moore. The musical "On a Wing and a Prayer" deals with the life and times of Monsignor James Horan, focusing on his long and arduous struggle to get the airport built. It premièred in the Royal Theatre, Castlebar, on 25 November 2010.


  1. ^ a b EIKN – IRELAND WEST (PDF). AIP and charts from the Irish Aviation Authority.
  2. ^ "Aviation Statistics 2016". Central Statistics Office. 18 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b News, The Mayo. "Knock airport defends new 'brand identity'". Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  4. ^ "About Us. Aviation Statistics". Ireland West Airport. 2018-01-08. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  5. ^ "Knock Airport records highest ever passenger numbers". Irish Examiner. 2018-01-08. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  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. ^
  9. ^ Pictures of Boeing 747 at Knock Airport, June 2003.
  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 2014-02-16.
  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. ^
  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. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Flight Timetables". Ireland West Airport Knock. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  21. ^ "Passenger Movement by Irish Airport, Direction, Foreign Airport and Month". Central Statistics Office. December 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  22. ^ Bus Eireann Route 64
  23. ^ Bus Eireann Route 438
  24. ^ Bus Eireann Route 440
  25. ^ a b "Directions & Transport". Ireland West Airport Knock. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  26. ^ "Serious Incident: Boeing B737-800 (sic), EI-DHX, Ireland West Airport, Knock, 23 Mar 2006". AAIU. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2007.

External links[edit]

Media related to Ireland West Airport at Wikimedia Commons