PASSENGER numbers at Cork Airport have increased by 9% to just over two million in the first nine months of this year.
The airport welcomed its two millionth passenger of 2019 last weekend and has also announced service expansions from both SWISS and TUI for next year.
Passenger numbers at Cork Airport are expected to hit 2.6 million by the end of the year, which would be an 8% increase for the full year.
This is still lower than the peak of 3.2 million in 2007, before the Celtic Tiger ended, but represents consistent growth in recent times.
“Passenger numbers at Cork Airport are thriving and it is the fastest-growing airport on the island of Ireland in the first three quarters of this year,” said Cork Airport Managing Director Niall MacCarthy.
“We have already announced six new routes and service expansions for 2020 and we are expecting more good news in the next few weeks for 2020, which will further increase consumer choice into and out of Cork.
“Airlines are increasingly choosing to place new business at Cork Airport as they see a commercial return from an efficient and strong airport.
“We intend, with our experienced and professional local management team working with the strong backing of daa group, to retain the mantle of Ireland’s fastest-growing airport into 2020.
“This is despite the undoubted challenges which lie ahead with Brexit. Twelve new route announcements in as many months and further growth announcements in the past week by Ryanair, SWISS and TUI all point to strong airline confidence in the market we serve right across the South of Ireland”.
SWISS this week announced the expansion of its Summer 2020 season to Zurich.
The airline will operate four flights per week — on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday — commencing March 29 and running until October 20.
This is a 15% increase on capacity versus Summer 2019 with an additional 4,400 seats on offer and an expansion to 30 weeks from 27 weeks.
Meanwhile, TUI will increase its capacity by 11% at Cork Airport next summer and will operate three times weekly, using its own chartered aircraft under its own brand.
In 2020, TUI will operate a new service to Lanzarote, and continue existing routes to Reus and Palma.
This brings TUI to 31,500 two-way seats next year, up from 28,500 in 2019.
“We are thrilled to see SWISS and TUI expand their services and increase capacity from Cork Airport again next summer,” Mr MacCarthy said.
“This is a testament to growing operator confidence in the markets served from Cork Airport.
“We are confident that these extended seasons will further add to Cork Airport’s impressive growth to date, attracting even more holiday and business visitors to the South of Ireland region for 2020.’’
Last week, Ryanair announced a new Summer 2020 service from Cork to Katowice, Poland.
The twice-weekly service is an extension of its Winter 2019/20 schedule route, commencing in October.
The airline’s Winter schedule also includes an additional four new services to Alicante, Budapest, Malta and Poznań.
Ryanair’s passenger numbers at Cork are forecast to rise by 23% in 2019, the largest increase among all Irish airports.