The daa has warned that Cork Airport is ‘running on empty’ and says it now requires specific provisions, including access to the Regional Airport OpEx and Capital Funding Programmes until traffic levels have recovered to pre-Covid levels.
Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport & Communications on issues affecting the aviation sector in Ireland, daa CEO Dalton Philips highlighted how last year Cork Airport served 2.7million passengers, but said that this year it expects it will serve less than 650,000 travellers.
“Cork Airport was Ireland’s fastest-growing airport in 2019 and was on course to be so again in 2020. Instead, over half of its airlines have withdrawn, traffic is down 90% and it is facing into losses of €20 million this year. In stark contrast to its other regional airport peers, Cork has received no direct State funding to date and now requires specific provisions, including access to the Regional Airport OpEx and Capital Funding Programmes,”Dalton Philips said.
Cork Airport Managing Director, Niall MacCarthy, who also attended the Oireachtas Committee meeting, estimates it will take three to four years to return to those levels of passenger traffic.
Mr Philips also warned that “it’s dangerous" for anyone to assume that routes withdrawn in the last six months will "simply re-emerge overnight”.
He added: “ We can be competing against 10 to 15 cities worldwide to get a single aircraft allocated to one of our airports. To win, we must build a compelling business case and engage with tourism bodies, economic development agencies, transport regulators and overseas diplomats from both sides,”’ he said.
Meanwhile, Cork Airport has also echoed calls for the Irish Government to quickly approve the adoption of rapid turnaround, low cost, scalable, pre-departure testing for red zone countries to let safe air travel restart with confidence and save the thousands of jobs dependent on tourism, hospitality and aviation.