Ireland West Airport Knock is the closest gateway for visitors to Connacht province and north west Ireland in general. More than 600,000 passengers arrive and depart annually, making Knock Airport the fourth-busiest in the Republic of Ireland.
Throughout its 25-year history, the airport has gone through a number of name changes: Horan International, Connacht Regional, Knock International and now Ireland West Airport Knock. Originally handling only Aer Lingus charter flights to Rome at a time when the north west region was struggling, the airport is the culmination of one man's crusade to improve Connacht's economic future. Monsignor James Horan spearheaded the unlikely campaign to bring international air travellers to this previously hard-to-reach corner of the country.
Officially opening with Ryanair flights to London in 1986, Knock Airport has seen steady growth in passenger numbers, airlines and available destinations. Airport infrastructure has been enhanced over the years as well. A €27 million capital grant from the government has led the way to several important improvements. A Category II Instrument Landing System has reduced the number of flights diverted for reasons of poor visibility, with a Category 1 system due to be installed by 2011. A terminal expansion project has improved services for passengers as well as enhancing security. Runway improvements have increased safety standards for take-offs and landings.
In the past decade, the airport has received several awards for being the best regional airport in Ireland. Currently it offers regular flights to Dublin, London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, among other cities. There are also seasonal flights to Zurich, Faro and other popular holiday destinations.