CORK AIRPORT is set for major expansion in the coming decades, with passenger numbers predicted to rise to more than four million per annum by 2050.
The massive jump in numbers will create a need for significant expansion at the airport, with more gates, stands, security lanes and screening areas all needed to handle the increased demand.
The Capacity Review of Ireland’s State Airports, published by Minister for Transport Shane Ross, described Cork Airport as a ‘key tourism and business gateway’ for the region.
It is expected to remain Ireland’s second busiest airport, with numbers rising from the 2.3 million passengers in 2017, to 4.1m. This is an average of 1.8% growth per year. Total take-offs and landings in Cork are forecast to increase from 50,900 in 2016 to 71,600 by 2050.
“Airports are vital to Ireland; aviation supports Ireland’s trading relationships and provides significant employment,” Mr Ross said.
“Tourism, Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, relies heavily on air travel.
“Irish airports have experienced a strong return to growth in recent years and this growth is expected to continue. In order to ensure that the airports are prepared for the longer term, this review looks to the future needs of the three State Airports to 2050.”
The 4.1 million figure for Cork is the baseline growth prediction but reviewers also looked at both downside and upside scenarios. Should a “cliff-edge” Brexit lead to WTO trading arrangements between the UK and EU, and/or the US has a more protectionist attitude towards international trade and investment, growth could be weaker but passenger numbers in Cork could still hit 3.7 million. Should Ireland’s economy be boosted by a global upturn, Cork numbers could reach 4.6 million.
The review found that Cork Airport has sufficient runway capacity to meet demand up to 2050, but will require upgrades in a number of areas. The airport currently has five x-ray lanes but additional lanes could be needed as soon as 2020. By 2050, it will need eight to 10 lanes and a much larger queuing area.
Similarly, the eight boarding gates at the airport will not be sufficient to handle the predicted growth, with 10 or 11 needed by 2050.
The review also predicted strong growth in Dublin and Shannon airports, with a third terminal a possibility in Dublin.
Mr Ross is inviting the views of all interested parties on the findings of the review through a public consultation process between now and the end of the year.