‘Extreme disappointment’ as Foynes Air Show is grounded due to lack of main sponsor

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

The Foynes Air Show has been running since 2014 and has attracted audience figures of up to 20,000 people. It has been estimated to be worth over €750,000 to the local community

The Foynes Air Show has been running since 2014 and has attracted audience figures of up to 20,000 people. It has been estimated to be worth over €750,000 to the local community

The Foynes Air Show, which has attracted thousands of spectators to the County Limerick port village over the past five years, will not go ahead this year, it has been confirmed.

The withdrawal of the Irish Aviation Authority as the main sponsor and the difficulty in finding a new sponsor at short notice have forced the decision, which has come as a huge disappointment in the community. 

Announcing the decision this Tuesday, Margaret O’Shaughnessy, who is the festival director and the driving force behind the Air Show, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the Foynes Air Show cannot go ahead this year. Despite our best efforts, we were unsuccessful in identifying a new main sponsor in the short timespan open to us since the announcement in mid-December that the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) was concentrating its Corporate Social Responsibility elsewhere.” 

The IAA sponsorship which covered all in-the-sky activity was worth an estimated €100,000 to Foynes as part of a joint deal with the Bray Air Show. But other sponsorship of up to €100,000 was secured for on-the-ground entertainment. 

The one-day festival has been running since 2014 and has attracted audience figures of up to 20,000 people. It has been estimated to be worth over €750,000 to the local community.

Ms O’Shaughnessy continued: “The disappointment has been compounded by the fact that this year is a big year for the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum as it celebrates its 30th birthday on July 8, and we also mark the 80th anniversary of the first commercial passenger flight over the North Atlantic this year.”

However, she added, a celebration of these landmark events will go ahead and will be supported by a donation of €10,000 from the IAA “for which we are grateful”.

“In the meantime we are coming to terms with a summer without the very popular Foynes Air Show for the first time in six years. Last year was the fifth year of the event, with the IAA coming on board for the last two years, making Foynes Air Show the largest and most successful along the Wild Atlantic Way,” she added.

“There is a huge financial cost to organising and hosting the Foynes Air Show - a free family event. The ground costs alone were more that €100,000, and without the support of the IAA or another major sponsor we would also have to cover the costs of the international air acts, something we could not do without the support of a new major sponsor.

“While we have received some public money with Failte Ireland announcing sponsorship of €7,000 and Limerick City and County Council pledging €20,000 for 2019, we relied mainly on private sponsorship,” she added.

“We are bitterly disappointed that the air show is not going ahead this year, but we remain eternally grateful for the support we received over the last five shows, including the support of our many sponsors which included the Shannon Foynes Port Company, Limerick City and County Council, Shannon Airport, Fáilte Ireland, Avolon and many other aviation companies, local industry and businesses. To our loyal sponsors who already indicated support for this year, we say thank you, and share in your disappointment that the show will not be going ahead.

“We would like to acknowledge and thank the IAA and  many agencies that have given us great support over past five years including the gardaí, civil defence, Red Cross, search and rescue organisations, ATC Shannon, and Foynes Fire Brigade.

“The Foynes Air Show would not have been the success it was without their support and the expertise of event management company Approved Productions, the Air Show Director David Fielding, the many aerobatic pilots - local and international including our own Board Director, Gerry Humphreys, and of course the local community,” she concluded.