The closure of Ryanair’s Cork Airport base for the winter period would have a “massive impact” on the Cork region and economy, the Cork Chamber has warned.
Chief Executive of the Chamber, Conor Healy was speaking after it was revealed Ryanair has threatened to close its Cork and Shannon Airport bases for winter, unless the government relaxes its quarantine restrictions on passengers flying into Ireland.
Any such closure would affect 130 staff directly employed by the airline at the two airports, 35 pilots and 95 cabin crew.
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 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.
“There needs to be a refocus on aviation and the government needs to address the issues highlighted by the aviation taskforce.
“There needs to be a move towards Ireland operating in a similar manner to other European countries, in recognising public health requirements but also the need to accommodate travel and facilitate activity at our airports.”
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.
“We've worked closely with all aviation employers, including Ryanair, in order to maximise job protection since March,” he added.
“We have called on the Government also to intervene to support the industry because Ireland's connectivity through aviation is crucial to its economy.
“The industry supports quality jobs in all regions.” 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 He called on the government to reevaluate the Green travel list and expedite a regime of rapid testing for Covid-19 at airports.
“Without reform we are looking at a catastrophic outcome for aviation and tourism in Ireland in 2021,” warned Senator Buttimer.
A spokesperson for Ryanair told The Echo:
“We don’t comment on negotiations with our people.”