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Environmental group objects to private hangar at Kerry Airport

By Conor O’Carroll

An environmental advocacy group has objected to plans to build a private aircraft hangar at Kerry Airport, saying private jets represent an “unnecessary polluting form of transport”. 

The plans involve the construction of a new 33-meter hanger, secure reception area and reserved parking to service private jets at Kerry Airport. It will also include a private arrivals and departures pick-up area. 

They also state the largest single aircraft capable of being stored is a Bombardier Global 7500 – the world’s largest purpose-built private jet.  

In their submission to Kerry County Council, Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) outline their opposition on a number of grounds, including nature protection, climate impact and social distribution to the surrounding area. 

They note that despite the ongoing climate crisis, private jet usage has soared with over 3 million flights taking place in 2022. 

Recent analysis by UK newspaper The Guardian found that “private jets belonging to 200 celebrities, CEOs, oligarchs and billionaires have spent a combined total of 11 years in the air since the start of 2022”, contributing significantly to global emissions. 

Studies have found that private jets are between 5 and 14 times more polluting, per passenger than commercial flights. 

Attention is also drawn to the impact on the surrounding area and the increased air, noise and light pollution from private jets flying overhead adding to the commercial traffic. 

The FIE submission cites local residents who claim that “private jets from Kerry Airport to date have resulted in increased knock-on helicopter traffic, disturbing their peace and invading the common airspace at very low altitudes to the upset of residents and farm animals”. 

The added noise pollution of low-flying aircraft has also disrupted the local school, church, sports activities and ceremonies, they claim. 

In their planning application, the developers say the new hangar will “release [Kerry Airport’s] potential as a strategically important international gateway”, citing the government’s policy on the development of the aviation sector.  

“The owners of these private planes have expressed an interest in storing their planes when not in use,” they continue. 

Studies have found that private jets are between 5 and 14 times more polluting, per passenger than commercial flights

Kerry Airport has deep connections to the private jet industry. Last year, the airport’s AGM was told that its private aviation business had surpassed Cork, only lagging behind Dublin and Shannon. 

A major shareholder in the airport since the 1990s has been the bin Mahfouz family, a Saudi billionaire banking family that invested in the airport in exchange for Irish passports. 

A representative of the family, Sammy Haress, was co-opted onto the board of directors in 2019 to oversee their interests. 

Haress is also the CEO of Jetstream Aviation, a private jet management company.

A decision is expected from Kerry County Council in mid-December. 

Village has contacted Kerry Airport for comment.