Calls to support Cork Airport in face of 'catastrophic' impact of Covid-19 

Calls to support Cork Airport in face of 'catastrophic' impact of Covid-19 

“Passenger numbers fell by over 95% during lockdown compared to the same period last year,” Niall MacCarthy told The Echo.

THERE have been calls for more support for Cork Airport as its managing director described the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the airport’s finances as ‘catastrophic’.

“Passenger numbers fell by over 95% during lockdown compared to the same period last year,” Niall MacCarthy told The Echo.

“Our traffic is not expected to recover to 2019 levels until 2024.

“The impact of Covid-19 on Cork Airport is expected to be the loss of over 2m passengers this year and more than €23m in lost revenues by year-end,” said Mr MacCarthy.

Chief executive of Cork Chamber, Conor Healy, said the stark figures relating to the airport represent a serious worry for the Cork economy.

“The aviation sector, along with tourism and hospitality, has been the hardest-hit sector economically as a result of Covid,” Mr Healy said. “I think that, while there is an appreciation of the issues and challenges impacting hospitality and tourism from the Government, this is not the case with regards to aviation and airports.

“Steps are being taken to assist and provide necessary support in tourism and hospitality but this is not the case for aviation “I think it’s time for the Government to sit up and take appropriate notice of the major challenges facing our airports, the aviation sector, and the knock-on impacts of this on the wider economy.”

Mr Healy called for Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to step in.

“The minister needs to engage fully with the aviation sector, particularly to take on board the recommendations of the aviation taskforce,” he said. “All of that can be done while adhering to health guidelines and with people’s concerns in mind.

“At the moment, Ireland is an outlier across Europe in terms of how we’re dealing with aviation and travel.

“While that was understandable in the earlier phases of the pandemic, it’s now time to find a reasonable balance that combines public health requirements with the requirements of a functioning economy.”

The airport has continued to provide important services for the local community during the pandemic, Mr McCarthy said.

“Cork Airport remained open throughout Covid-19, providing cover for vital air services to assist with the repatriation of Irish citizens stranded overseas and to make sure supply chains were maintained for the import and export of key supplies. The airport also played a key role in multiple search and rescue missions, Air Corps, and Garda operations, and medical evacuations.”

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