11 November 2020
By Tom Collins
Today in the Dáil, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Sinn Féin TD for Cork South Central raised with Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan his ongoing concerns about the situation at Cork Airport. He said:
“I have been raising concerns about Cork Airport for several months now. The debate today is timely and it is valuable.
“There are about 2,200 jobs directly relying on Cork Airport, and another 10,000 indirectly. A lot of these jobs are on ice.
“There are workers who are on the breadline, who are at the pin of their collars because of the mishandling of the Wage Subsidy Scheme, and the fact that money they are owed has been withheld from them. The supports that have existed in other parts of the economy have not been received in their totality by these airline workers.
“Cork Airport is a key driver for the region. The Government’s Ireland 2040 plan talks about Cork being the fastest growing city in the State, but it can’t do that without a viable, international airport.
“The additional funds provided are very welcome, of course they are and I am pleased to see it, but the Government must go further than that. There are still very real threats facing Cork Airport, in terms of the threatened closure of the regional bases for Ryanair and Aer Lingus. Ryanair flights have stopped for the next couple of weeks, and we do not know when they will be coming back.
“And the fact is we haven’t cracked testing, and until we do, then this is only keeping catastrophe at bay for a time, we must go much further.
“The Minister has said he will happily sit down with other TDs to discuss this. I would certainly take him up on this opportunity, because there are many issues in relation to the airport that I would discuss with him. This is not enough, however; the Government must act without delay to put a comprehensive and robust plan in place for Cork Airport.
“The priority needs to be the jobs of those employed in Cork Airport. The workers deserve what is owed to them. They deserve protection for their jobs.
“Then, crucially, we must focus on the role of the airport for the region. We know that we will not return to the position we were in pre-Covid for the next while. When this over, however, Cork will need a viable international airport, and the region will need viable international connectivity. If the Government does not act swiftly, I fear for the future of the airport.