Cork Airport “devastated”

15 October 2020
By Bryan Smyth

Ryanair is to close its bases in Cork Airport, and Shannon Airport, for the winter of 2020-2021

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said “While we deeply regret these winter schedule cuts they have been forced upon us by Government mismanagement of EU air travel”

The airline had warned a number of weeks ago that it may be forced to pull out of Cork and Shannon winter unless the Irish Government took steps to open up air travel.

Ryanair had been operating 13 routes in and out of Cork, but this is now also dropping to 3 for the winter.

Here in Cork; Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director at Cork Airport reacted to Ryanair decision.

The Cork Airport MD said:

“The team here at Cork Airport is really devastated to hear of Ryanair’s decision to close its base at Cork with the loss of so many direct and indirect jobs and the cessation of thirteen routes.

We have done everything in our power at Cork Airport to retain the base here and the connectivity that it delivers for the South of Ireland region.

However, since the pandemic, many Ryanair flights to and from Cork have been operating with fewer than ten passengers…”

Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director of Cork Airpor pictured in an empty terminal

He continued

“…Cork Airport was Ireland’s fastest-growing airport before COVID-19 and we are now looking at a 95% plus reduction in traffic levels for this coming winter compared to last year.

Despite the base closure, Ryanair will still retain three routes serving Cork over the winter – Stansted, Katowice and Gdansk. However, these routes will be operated by aircraft and staff based outside of Ireland. Ryanair has had a base at Cork Airport since 2005, and this winter will be the first time in fifteen years that the airline has not had any aircraft based in Cork.

With the appropriate financial supports and travel policies from Government, we will work tirelessly to secure the return of the Ryanair base at Cork ahead of next summer, when hopefully, the airline will be in a position to replace lost services.

In addition to those three Ryanair routes, Cork Airport will also have a service to Amsterdam with KLM this winter and Aer Lingus will operate services to Heathrow and Amsterdam. The continuity of all or any of these services cannot be taken for granted and we will continue to work with the Government and our airline customers to retain this hard-won connectivity as best we can this winter”.

Meanwhile, Conor Healy, Cork Chamber CEO said,

“The announcement by Ryanair today that it is to close its Cork base puts Cork Airport on the ropes and will be devastating for the staff impacted directly and indirectly. The gravity of the pandemic is displayed once again. This announcement is hugely damaging for regional and national connectivity and raises very real concerns regarding the ability of Cork Airport to avoid closure without further direct financial support from government in addition to that announced and welcomed on Budget Day.”

“However, beyond this a firm commitment to EU travel standards and most importantly the ability to implement proactive travel testing without delay remains acute and essential.”

“There can be no doubting the track record of Cork Airport as Ireland’s fastest growing airport with 30% passenger growth in the years leading up to this pandemic and with expected passenger numbers this year of 2.8 million. If Cork Airport cannot stay on its feet, supports for tourism and hospitality announced in the budget can only be partial and temporary at best.”

“As we emphasised throughout Autumn, international connectivity is the foundation on which business, tourism and hospitality is built. Cork Airport directly and indirectly supports 12,000 jobs in the region and generated over €900 million for the Irish economy in 2019 and is a key driver of the Cork economy.”

File photo of Conor Healy (right), CEO, Cork Chamber

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