In the penultimate episode of the UTV documentary series, 'The Airport up at Knock', the airport reaches another milestone – it’s about to welcome its 10 millionth passenger, and there’s a great surprise in store for this lucky person.
Ten minutes from the airport stands Knock Shrine, which attracts 1.5 million visitors per year from all over the world. Having recently painted Knock Airport, John Crean has been contracted to paint the Basilica in preparation for a rededication ceremony to mark its 40th anniversary – “the holy grail of jobs”.
In Boston, we meet some of the people travelling to Knock on a special charter flight for the rededication ceremony. Joe and Marie Farragher show us around Clinton, a town with strong Mayo connections and a very special link to the Knock Shrine. Boston-based travel agent Sara Stanton is coordinator for the trip, but also has a more personal reason for her journey home – her grandmother has just passed away in England and her remains are to be returned to Mayo. With the airport steeped in nervous anticipation and a very thick fog - the ground crew prepares for the only transatlantic flight of the year, but will the Boston flight have to be diverted?
Elsewhere, Darren from Customer Services gets the chance to take to the runway with the Connaught Aero Club and we get a glimpse of what Jim Corry, Head of Technical Services, gets up to when he’s not working.
Nestled just inland off the Wild Atlantic Way, and with the shadow of Croagh Patrick looming in the background, the legacy of Monsignor James Horan is celebrating 30 years in business this year. In this series, we see inside the unlikely success story of an airport which was initially a strip of tarmacadam atop a peaty mountain.
With exclusive access to every part of the airport itself, The Airport Up in Knock is a unique documentary following the daily lives of the customers and staff of Knock Airport, and demonstrates how tightly woven the airport is into the modern DNA of Mayo and the West of Ireland.
Over the last three decades, the airport has seen its yearly passenger numbers increase from just over 9,000 in its first year, to a forecasted 725,000 passengers in its 30th. Knock Airport boasts an average of 150 flights per week, to 23 destinations across the UK, Europe and the United States.
More than 300,000 visitors from overseas visit the region annually through the airport, contributing to an annual tourism spend of €133m, which supports close to one million bed nights and over 900 jobs in the wider region.
Aside from providing a vital lifeline to the tourism trade and businesses in the West of Ireland, the airport also provides local employment, with 100 full time employees - rising to 150 (including part-time) during the busy summer season.
Speaking about the series, The Airport up in Knock, executive producer Jamie D’Alton of Motive Television said:
“This series was inspired by the tireless work of those who make Knock Airport an important gateway to the west of Ireland. We wanted to highlight the vast visitor numbers that the airport generates in the wider region, as well as the important role it plays in the daily lives of many local people through employment. Business is booming, and as the airport celebrates its 30thbirthday this year, it’s showing no signs of slowing down!”
The fifth episode of The Airport up in Knock airs on Monday, December 5 at 8pm on UTV Ireland. The series has been part-funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Sound and Vision Fund.