Waterford Airport is the only airport located in the South East of Ireland.
1977 - the Waterford Chamber of Commerce President Clive McCarthy said Waterford was losing business through the absence of an airport. The Chamber President pointed out the great advantage that Cork, Dublin and Shannon had in attracting new industries.
1980 - No fewer than 19 tenders had been received by the then City Manager Michael Doody in respect of construction work on the new airport to be developed between Tramore and Dunmore East. The works included the construction of a 1,200-metre long and 23-metre wide runway, a taxiway and an aircraft standing area.
1981 - the operational License was granted by the Department of Transport & Power to Waterford’s new airport. Avair Managing Director Gerry Connolly formally handed over the licence to Airport Manager Chris Hennessy after an inaugural 25-minute flight from Dublin. For the record, Avair’s Chief Pilot, Capt Hank Vanderzee, piloted the IR£2 million 30-seater commuter aircraft on the journey from Dublin to Waterford.
1982 - Waterford’s new £1.5 million airport was finally granted its full flying wings when the Department of Transport & Power sanctioned a licence for international flights. The news coincided with an announcement by Avair Ltd that a twice-weekly mid-day scheduled service between Dublin and Waterford was to commence on Monday, March 29, 1982.
1985 - Waterford’s first international scheduled air service left the Airport for Gatwick on Monday, July 8, 1985. The number of people using the newly established Ryanair service between Waterford and London-Gatwick was running well ahead of expectations in what was only its second week in operation. In the first week, bookings had exceeded the expected level by some 40% as confidence grew about the future of the service.
1987 - The year kicked off on a very encouraging note with the opening of the new Ryanair offices on the Quay in Waterford city. The over-riding opinion at the time was that the local airport would prosper in the years ahead. However, as City Manager Michael Doody pointed out at the Ryanair opening ceremony, a lot would depend on the availability of Government funds to support the facility’s development.
1987 - A major new drive launched in September to improve Waterford’s attractiveness as a tourism destination included the provision of a proper car park at Waterford Regional Airport.
1988 - The Mayor of Waterford, [then] Alderman Davy Daniels, declared in February 1988 that an extended runway that would allow jet aircraft to land at Waterford Airport would not only benefit the people of the area but also boost industry in the region. In August 1988, the Government delivered positive news when it was confirmed that IR£1.35 million was being made available to the Airport from total national funding of IR£4m.
The year also saw Ryanair bring further good news to the airport when they began using their new IR£6.5m ATR Turbo-Prop aeroplane on the Waterford-London Luton route.
1990 - Waterford Regional Airport plc was set up in February to secure finance for improved facilities. At the same time, Aer Lingus announced the suspension of their services linking Waterford to Dublin. The route had been operated by the state airline for less than a year. Ryanair turned the tables by announcing a new weekend service to Liverpool during the summer months.
In April 1990, as a plan was endorsed to raise IR£1.3m for the development of a new terminal and control tower at Waterford Regional Airport, Aer Lingus revealed its reasons for withdrawing from the local facility. The airline said there hadn’t been a single month when the Waterford-Dublin service had attracted the expected number of passengers. Despite this the Airport was on the up and up.. In June, the historic inaugural flight took place on Ryanair’s weekly service linking Waterford with Liverpool. The airport’s fundraising drive was also going well with a share target of one million pounds topped by another half million.
Passenger numbers continued to rise sharply with the first six months of 1990 seeing a 40% increase in the number of people flying through Waterford. Waterford Airport published their annual report just before Christmas 1990 and it seemed there was nothing but blue skies ahead. As well as posting a profit for the year, they confirmed that major development plans were in place that would see the Airport growing even more dramatically in 1991.
1991 - brought uncertainty at the Airport as Ryanair threatened to withdraw unless the airport board agreed to cut charges.
1992 - It was a busy news month in Waterford with outrage expressed at Ryanair’s decision to cut their services to and from the Airport.
Construction commenced on the new terminal building with work scheduled to start in April. In July Taoiseach Albert Reynolds opened the new IR£1m terminal at Waterford Regional Airport.
Ryanair withdrew from Waterford in August, blaming recessions in the US and in the aviation industry.
1993 - The London route was taken up by by Manx Airlines using a 29-seater aircraft and flying to/from London Stansted. Within two weeks of starting operations from Waterford, Manx Airlines added the Manchester route. Manx Airlines later became British Regional Airlines and traded under franchise as British Airways Express to Waterford until January 2001. The small family owned Suckling Airways operated alongside British Regional Airlines using an 18-seater aircraft on the Waterford-London Luton route from 1994 to 2000.
The big guns of local business rallied in June 1998 to revive the fortunes of Waterford Regional Airport and to harness its potential to boost local development.
1998 - The arrival of a dawn-to-dusk helicopter rescue service, when the Air Corps opened a new search-and-rescue base at Waterford. 27-year-old Capt John O'Keeffe from Newrath in Waterford was the pilot of the Alouette 3 helicopter that was to cover emergencies along the coast and inland from Wexford to Cork. The region had previously been served from the search-and-rescue base at Shannon.
1999 - The Board of Waterford Regional Airport announced plans in the early summer for a IR£6.09 million runway extension, which would open up the Airport up to modern jet traffic.
The airport community was struck by tragedy on July 1, 1999 when an Air Corps helicopter crash at Tramore claimed the lives of Captain David O’Flaherty, Captain Michael Baker, Sergeant Paddy Mooney and Corporal Niall Byrne. Their bodies were taken from the beach at Tramore on July 2nd as the thick fog, which contributed to the loss of control of their aircraft, again enveloped the Waterford coastline. The crew had been called out at 10.30pm on the previous night to find a pleasure craft that was lost in the fog off Dungarvan.
2001 - Euroceltic Airways began scheduled services on Waterford-London Luton using 44-seater Fokker F27 aircraft. In November of the same year, they added Liverpool while a route to Dublin was established in October 2002.
2003 - Euroceltic ceased operations but were succeeded later that year by Aer Arann on the Waterford-London Luton route. Also in 2003, Pilot Training College Ireland established their training base at the Airport.
Aer Arann successfully grew their operation from their Waterford base from 2003, adding services to Manchester, London Southend and a seasonal service to Lorient.
2007 – 2008 - Summer sun flights were offered to European destinations including Bordeaux, Faro and Malaga which were hugely successful and the Airport reached over 100,000 passengers in 2008.
2009 -Waterford Airport introduced new ‘Stair-climber’ equipment to improve its services to passengers with reduced mobility.
2011 - Waterford Airport was the first Airport in Ireland to launch a mobile website with live flight information allowing passengers with a smartphone to check live flight arrival and departure information, along with a timetable and Airport contact details whilst they are on the go.
2012 - saw the announcement of Europe’s largest regional airline Flybe take up a seven-day a week route to Birmingham from Waterford Airport.
On March 16th 2012 it was announced that the Aer Arann routes to Manchester, London Luton and London Southeast would be operated by Aer Lingus Regional from Waterford Airport. These flights were available to book on aerlings.com in late 2012. After going through a tough receivership process, Aer Arann announced their departure from Waterford Airport.
2013 - Flybe added the Manchester route to their operations from Waterford Airport. Flybe currently offer regular flights each week to and from Birmingham and Manchester. Further information is availbale at flybe.com
In January 2014 Waterford Airport welcomed the new Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky S92 helicopter at the Search and Rescue base.
The new helicopter serves the South and South-eastern region of the country on a 24 / 7 basis, as the base has done since it opened in May 2002. During this time the Waterford Base has responded to over 1,313 emergency taskings countrywide in addition to routine work with the RNLI, HSE, Garda Siochana, Defence Forces, Local Authorities and many other agencies.
The new S92 Helicopter now enables the crew to increase their range to 270 miles, reach a top speed of 160 miles per hour, carry a greater number of casualties, and operate in more adverse weather conditions than its forerunner and also carry out taskings for the HSE including transporting patients or organs for transplants to the UK.
In May 2014 over 180 Personnel take part in annual Emergency Services National Training Exercise based at Waterford Airport
The Department of Transport in conjunction with Waterford Airport and the National Emergency Services hosted its national exercise off the Waterford coastline. Waterford Airport was the base of operations for the National Exercise and over 180 personnel across nine emergency services including, The Irish Coastguard, The Civil Defence, The RNLI, The National Ambulance Service, An Garda Siochana, The Waterford Fire Services and the Defence Forces including, the Army, Aer Corps and Irish Navy alongside Waterford Airport and the Department of Transport.
In August 2014 it was announced passenger numbers at Waterford Airport in the eight months to August 31st were up 42.5% compared to the same period last year.
August was the busiest month in 2014 at Waterford Airport. Some 4,544 passengers flew in and out of the airport during the month compared to 3,993 in the same month last year – an increase of 13.8%.
In December 2014 Flybe announced a cessation of services on the Birmingham-Waterford route from April 2015. This decision appears to be part of a wider decision, whereby the airline will cease to operate nine routes from Birmingham. Flybe operated the Birmingham-Waterford route since March 2012 and also provided Manchester-Waterford flights from May 2013.
In March 2015 VLM Airlines announced details of their operation of 2 routes from Waterford Airport including Waterford-London Luton and Waterford to Birmingham. On the London route a twice-daily Monday-Friday flights, as well as a Saturday and a Sunday service. Operations will begin on Monday, April 27 using a Fokker 50 aircraft with capacity for up to 50 passengers. VLM will also operate a four times a week service from Waterford to Birmingham.