Every passenger that uses Donegal Airport costing taxpayer €69

Taxpayers are subsidising passengers who use the country's regional airports for every flight they take.

Around €90m in levies has been paid to subsidise domestic flights from six regional airports over the last six years.

An investigation by the Irish Independent shows that in the case of Donegal and Sligo airports, the taxpayer is paying a massive €69 for each passenger using the facilities.

In total, since 2005, some €131m has been spent by the State supporting Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Knock, Sligo and Waterford airports.

This includes the €90m to underpin PSO routes and another €41m in operational supports and capital grants.

Between them, Sligo and Donegal airports received almost €37m in state aid and saw just over 500,000 people go through their doors from 2005 to November 2010 -- meaning the average taxpayer support per passenger for the two airports was €69.

Both airports received the largest PSO subsidies during that period, almost €32.5m, which is more than a third of all such subsidies paid since 2005.

The Government will only financially assist Kerry and Donegal airports with renewed PSO routes from October, leaving Galway, Waterford, Sligo and Knock airports to attract their own investment and new routes.