Ireland West Airport Knock

Ireland West Airport Knock
Aerfort Iarthar Éireann Chnoc Mhuire
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)

Location of airport in Ireland

Direction Length Surface
m ft
08/26 2,340 7,700 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 684,671
Passenger change 14-15 Decrease2.7%
Source: Irish AIS[1] Passengers[2]

Ireland West Airport Knock (IATA: NOC, ICAO: EIKN) (Irish: Aerfort Iarthar Éireann Chnoc Mhuire) is a regional airport located 5.6km (3.5 miles) south-west of Charlestown, County Mayo, Ireland. The village of Knock is 20km (12.5 miles) away. In 2014, 703,727 passengers used the airport, making it the fourth busiest in the Republic of Ireland after Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airport. It was previously known as Knock International Airport, Connaught Regional Airport, and Horan International Airport. Some airlines (especially low-cost airlines) know it as Knock Ireland West.


The airport opened on 25 October 1985 with three Aer Lingus charter flights to Rome: the official opening was on 30 May 1986.[3] 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,[3] the story of which has even spawned a musical.[4] 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 5 years, primarily financed by a Government grant of £9.8 million.[5] 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.[3]

On 1 June 2003, hundreds of people gathered to view an Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747 land with 500 returning pilgrims from Lourdes.[6]

Recent years

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.[3]

It was voted the Republic of Ireland's best regional airport in 2006 and 2009 by the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland.[3]

2007 was a notable year, with scheduled transatlantic services to New York and Boston commencing in May, operated by the now-defunct Flyglobespan.[7]

In 2008 a record 629,000 passengers used the airport, a 13% rise compared to the previous year.[3]

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.[8]

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.[9]

During September 2011 Ryanair celebrated its 4 millionth passenger through the airport, while Lufthansa announced it would be commencing weekly flights to Düsseldorf in May 2012.[10][11]

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. In May 2012 budget carrier BmiBaby announced that it was to axe its only route to Birmingham from 10 June due to the airline's takeover by IAG.[12] 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 4 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 3 new routes from Knock to Glasgow-Prestwick, Kaunas and Eindhoven. However, these routes had all been withdrawn by the fourth quarter of 2014.[13]

On the 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 country (all thirty-two counties). The aircraft used for the Flight was a Boeing 757-200.

Government assistance

The building of the airport was primarily financed by Government grants totaling £9.858 million.[14] The completion of the airport was funded by a £1.3 million grant from EU, payable on condition that the airport developers provided an equal sum from their own resources.[15]

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. 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 this 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.

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

In 2005 the airport changed its name to Ireland West Airport Knock. 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

The following airlines operate scheduled services to and from Ireland West Airport Knock:[16]

Aer Lingus London–Gatwick
AlbaStar Seasonal charter: Reus
Flybe Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester
Ryanair East Midlands, Lanzarote, Liverpool, London–Luton, London–Stansted
Seasonal: Alicante, Bergamo, Bristol, Faro, Girona (begins 4 June 2017),[17] Málaga, Tenerife–South

Passenger statistics

Knock airport in August 2013
Passenger numbers by year
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
Ten busiest international routes at Knock Airport (2013)
Rank Airport Passengers % Change
1 London Stansted 114,672 Increase12.7
2 London Luton 105,119 Increase19.7
3 Liverpool 85,121 Increase2.5
4 London Gatwick 67,684 Decrease13.0
5 East Midlands 57,021 Increase4.7
6 Faro 30,499 Decrease1.1
7 Bristol 27,408 Decrease2.9
8 Birmingham 25,623 Decrease34.2
9 Manchester 25,380 Decrease2.5
10 Lanzarote 23,974 Increase6.4
Source: Central Statistics Office[18]

Ground transportation


The airport is on the main N17 north – south road, halfway between Galway and Sligo, close to the junction with the N5 east – west Westport – Castlebar – Longford road. There is a taxi rank outside the arrivals/departures entrance, car hire is also available from the terminal building. There are over 1,500 accessible short-term and long-term spaces.

The nearest major town, Sligo, is approximately 55 kilometres (34 mi) away. Galway is approximately 89 kilometres (55 mi), Limerick is approximately 171 kilometres (106 mi) away and Dublin is around 220 kilometres (140 mi) from the airport.


Bus Éireann services:

Bus services connecting Charlestown


The nearest railway stations are Ballyhaunis (22km/13.7 miles), Foxford (27km/16.8 miles) and Claremorris (31km/19.3 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.[24]

Car Hire

A number of International car rental companies offer rental facilities at Ireland West Knock Airport including Budget, Avis, and Europcar[25] and Hertz.[26]

Incidents and accidents



  1. 1 2 EIKN – IRELAND WEST (PDF). AIP and charts from the Irish Aviation Authority.
  2. "2013 is second busiest year in airports history as 665,000 passengers pass through the airport in 2013". 2014-01-11. Retrieved 2014-02-16.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "History of Ireland West Airport Knock". Ireland West Airport Knock. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  4. "The Remarkable Life Story of Monsignor James Horan". Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  6. Pictures of Boeing 747 at Knock Airport, June 2003.
  7. "New scheduled flights to New York & Boston commence!". 31 May 2007. Archived from the original on 5 December 2007.
  8. "Investment of €3.6 million undertaken to complete two major projects". 2009-08-19. Retrieved 2014-02-16.
  9. "Ireland West Airport Knock - Over 81,000 passengers use the Airport in August". Retrieved 2014-02-16.
  10. "Ryanair celebrates 4 million passengers on Knock flights". September 2011.
  11. "Lufthansa to start Knock Airport service". RTÉ News. 14 September 2011.
  12. "Ryanair announces major European expansion from Ireland West Airport Knock". Retrieved 2014-02-16.
  16. "Scheduled Flights Summer / Autumn 2014".
  18. CSO Ireland Database – Air Passenger Movement
  19. Bus Eireann Route 64
  20. Bus Eireann Route 438
  21. Bus Eireann Route 440
  22. Bus Eireann Route 22
  23. Bus Eireann Route 66
  24. Airport Taxis
  25. Europcar
  26. Ireland West Knock Airport Car Rental
  27. "Serious Incident: Boeing B737-800 (sic), EI-DHX, Ireland West Airport, Knock, 23 Mar 2006". AAIU. Retrieved 30 December 2007.

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