Cork Airport to hold 'crisis' briefing with TDs and Senators

Cork Airport to hold 'crisis' briefing with TDs and Senators

Cork Airport is to host a ‘crisis’ briefing for local TDs and Senators this Monday, September 14, it has been revealed.

The briefing comes just days after Ryanair threatened to close its Cork Airport base this winter, blaming the government’s “mismanagement” of the green travel list.

Cork TDs and Senators were informed of the briefing on September 7, before Ryanair made its announcement.

In an email to Oireachtas members in the region seen by The Echo, Cork Airport management said:

“Aviation in Ireland is undergoing the most serious crisis in its history due to the international consequences of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.” Oireachtas members were invited to a cross party briefing this Monday to “discuss the current situation in relation to Cork Airport”.

The email said that the airport will host two briefings, one at 9.30am and another at 11am, that will “strictly comply” with social distancing guidelines, and ensure gathering restrictions are not breached.

When Cork Airport organised the briefing, Ryanair had not yet made its announcement that, unless government travel restrictions are eased, it would be compelled to close its winter bases at both Cork and Shannon Airports.

Any such closure would affect 130 staff directly employed by the airline at the two airports, 35 pilots and 95 cabin crew.

Ryanair accounted for around 80% of Cork Airport’s traffic during the Covid-19 crisis, overtaking Aer Lingus as the airport’s largest airline for the first time in the airport’s 59-year history.

The airline operated 23 routes this year but had previously announced a 20% reduction in seat capacity for September and October due to low demand.

In a letter purportedly sent to Ryanair staff in Cork and circulated on social media, Ryanair Chief Executive Eddie Wilson said the airline was forced towards this decision due to the government’s “mismanagement” of the Green List for travel.

Speaking to The Echo, Conor Healy, CEO of Cork Chamber, said the announcement from Ryanair is “very concerning”.

“They are a key element of Cork Airport in terms of routes and business.

“Any disruption to that and any suggestion of their base being closed would have a massive impact across the wider Cork region and all aspects of the economy,” he added.

A spokesperson for Forsa, the union representing airline staff, said:

“It's very distressing news for crew based in Cork, their families, and the region's economy.

“It reflects the very difficult circumstances affecting the entire aviation industry as a result of the Covid pandemic.” Cork Senator Jerry Buttimer (FG) said Cork Airport would require urgent support from the government if Ryanair proceeds with plans to close its base at the airport A spokesperson for Ryanair told The Echo:

“We don’t comment on negotiations with our people.”

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