CORK Chamber has accused a new report prepared for the Minister of Transport of ‘significantly’ underestimating the potential of Cork Airport, with serious consequences.
The Chamber is concerned about the Capacity Review of Ireland’s State Airports, which reviewed future capacity needs at state airports and was published last week.
The report projected passenger numbers in Cork would rise to more than four million per annum by 2050, working out at an average of 1.8% growth per year.
“The assumptions used by the authors to project future capacity needs are extremely concerning and appear to significantly underestimate the potential for growth at Cork Airport,” Cork Chamber Director of Public Affairs Thomas McHugh said.
“In doing that, the report also misjudges the infrastructure required to facilitate passenger growth in Cork.
“By using an average 1.8% annual growth projection from now to 2050, the report undercalculates passenger demand by more than 50% when compared to Cork Airport’s recent growth performance averaging 4% per annum.”
The report said there would be a need for expansion of facilities at the airport, including additional boarding gates, x-ray lanes and passenger queuing areas. But the Chamber fears that underestimating the true figure means the Government may not invest sufficiently in the airport.
“In real numbers, this means one million fewer annual passengers flying in and out of Cork by 2050 than otherwise can be achieved,” Mr McHugh said.
“If approved by the Minister this would be a huge loss to Ireland’s second city and an undermining of the commitments of Ireland 2040.”
Speaking as the report was published, Minister Shane Ross said it showed a possible need for a third terminal in Dublin Airport.
“I want to ensure that there is an open approach to the policy options for expansion of Dublin Airport and specifically an examination of the merit of introducing competition in the provision of terminal services,” he said. “The Report confirms that this is a possible option. I will now seek to establish the views of key stakeholders before considering the matter further and deciding a way forward.”
But Cork Chamber said this view would skew investment toward Dublin, with a negative impact on other regions.
“These misleading figures have caused the report to propose additional terminal capacity in Dublin instead of better utilisation of existing terminals,” Mr McHugh said.
“This is completely counterintuitive to Government’s vision of better balancing national growth and will have serious consequences for economic development potential in this region.
“We firmly believe that future investment in our national airports should support balanced growth across all three state airports, and we will be formally making a submission to that effect.”