The CEO of Ireland West Airport has said the facility has been "brought to its knees".  

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Joe Gilmore said there has been a "near total collapse" of passenger numbers, revenue and employment at the airport. 

More commonly known as Knock airport, it will be forced to close when Ryanair suspends operations for four weeks from 14 November. 

Mr Gilmore, who was appointed to the Government Aviation Recovery Taskforce, said two thirds of his staff have been laid off and there has been a 90% reduction in passenger numbers. 

"We've been through the wars", he said. "We recognise that we're the same as many businesses in the hospitality and aviation sectors, but now we're facing a complete suspension of services for the second time this year." 

Over 100 jobs will be impacted directly by the closure, Mr Gilmore said, as well as a "serious risk" of permanent loss of critical air access to the west of Ireland. 

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He said it is clear from recent Oireachtas hearings that the key recommendations in the areas of protecting public health, rebuilding confidence and saving jobs, "require urgent attention by Government".

Mr Gilmore said he recognises that the Government "has had significant challenges" but that as an island, we "have to economically coexist with the virus, and that has to include international travel". 

Clarity and definition is needed on the issue of a green list and "we need to urgently open up the economy", Mr Gilmore said.

"We've Christmas coming up and we would typically have over 50,000 people from the UK that want to visit loved ones along the west and north west. 

"We're getting phone calls now about whether we can reopen in December and what the situation will be in terms of booking flights. These people would love to get back for Christmas. We'd love to have a testing system in place at the airport that we could facilitate that." 

Kerry Airport to keep flying Dublin-Kerry route

Meanwhile, Kerry Airport said it will remain open throughout the current Level 5 restrictions, and beyond, and will continue its twice daily Kerry-Dublin route. 

Before announcing the cancellation of flights from all regional airports for a month from November 14, Ryanair had already reduced the frequency of services to London Luton and Stansted while flights to Germany are not operating at present.

"We remained open throughout the first wave of the pandemic and we will continue to operate into the future to facilitate the needs of the emergency air services who require a landing base in Kerry," commented Kerry Airport's CEO John Mulhern. 

"The PSO route between Kerry and Dublin also continues to be a crucial lifeline for passengers travelling for essential work, education and healthcare needs," he said.

"We understand everyone's concerns about getting home to see loved ones this Christmas and we remain hopeful that there will be some positive developments heading into the festive season," Mr Mulhern added.