The government will do all it can to keep a “strong presence” of both Ryanair and Aer Lingus at Cork Airport into the future, according to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
Cork's Michael McGrath was speaking to The Echo after Ryanair threatened to close its Cork and Shannon bases this winter if the government fails to adopt the EU travel list later this month.
The airline called on the government to adopt a new European travel list that will classify countries in terms of Covid risks from October 13.
If this does not happen, Ryanair said that it has no choice but to close its Cork and Shannon winter bases from October 26 due to what it described as the “devastating impact” of the Irish government’s “mismanagement” of air travel.
Meanwhile, Cork Airport management called for greater financial support from the government and for an end to the 14-day quarantine guidelines, stating: “Quarantines don’t work in an air travel context and people are electing not to travel when faced with a 14-day quarantine on return”.
Speaking to The Echo, Minister McGrath said: “The virus has had a devastating impact on aviation and I'm very conscious of the consequences this has had on Cork Airport and everyone who depends on it.
“As a government, we are keen to move in line with the common approach being proposed at an EU level, to enable a safe return to international travel.
“The aim is to make progress on this later this month,” he added.
“We will do all we can to keep a strong presence of both Ryanair and Aer Lingus at Cork Airport into the future.”
The closure of Ryanair’s winter base at Cork Airport would have a major impact on the airport, which has already endured a difficult financial year.
Airport management recently revealed that it expects to lose around €20m this year as passenger numbers plummeted by around 95% during lockdown.
Speaking earlier this week, managing director of Cork Airport Niall MacCarthy said Ireland needs to learn to coexist with Covid-19 and “keep people in employment whilst staying safe”.
“Our economy and people can’t stay cut off from the rest of the world for that period."
Mr MacCarthy said Cork Airport will need financial support, similar to that given to other regional airports, from the government to rebuild business at the airport.
“The return on supports to aviation are significant given the economic impact of aviation in creating and sustaining jobs throughout our supply chain, tourism, hospitality and industry,” he concluded.