13 February 2015
By Elaine Murphy
Fine Gael Cork South Central TD, Jerry Buttimer has said that IAG has
presented no clear vision on how it can grow business at Cork Airport.
Deputy Buttimer was commenting after questioning International Airport
Group (IAG) CEO, Willie Walsh, at a hearing of the Oireachtas
Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport.
“Cork Airport has the potential to facilitate economic growth in our
city and county but it needs an increase in flights and an increase in
passenger numbers. Although Mr Walsh spoke well today he did not set
out a vision of how IAG would grow business at Cork Airport. He
failed to show how IAG taking over Aer Lingus would reverse the trend
of falling passenger numbers at Cork.
“Cork Airport is located in a county with a population of over 500,000
and it is at the centre of the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland. It
is also located on the doorstep on an increasing number of the world’s
leading technology companies. Despite these competitive advantages Mr
Walsh expressed surprise at the decline in passenger numbers at Cork
Airport and he contrasted this with the growth in numbers flying
between Cork and London Heathrow. This underscores the importance for
Cork of connectivity with Heathrow.
“When I questioned Mr Walsh on his plans for Cork Airport it was
reassuring that he stated he wants to grow business at Cork. He said
he wants to make Aer Lingus more efficient and that we would look very
carefully at opportunities. But unfortunately Mr Walsh failed to give
any specifics that would benefit Cork other than restate his
commitment to maintain the Heathrow slots for five years.
“When Mr Walsh was head of Aer Lingus he grew passenger numbers from
Cork, he clearly knows the potential of Cork Airport. Today was an
opportunity to ask him how he sees the future of Cork Airport and what
his company IAG can do to help increase airline traffic at Cork
Airport. Unfortunately we were left with no answers.”