No US pre-clearance in Cork, says airport boss

No US pre-clearance in Cork, says airport boss
Cork Airport main terminal and reception area. Picture Dan Linehan

THE possibility of pre-clearance facilities at Cork Airport for flights to the United States has been dismissed by director, Niall MacCarthy, but a new route to Bratislava is planned, as is the return of a twice-weekly service to Nice.

Mr MacCarthy said airport management had considered introducing preclearance, but decided that waiting times would not be significantly reduced pre-flight, compared to post-flight.

“Pre-clearance is irrelevant, absolutely irrelevant,” Mr MacCarthy said.

“I’ve flown to Rhode Island three times and I’ve never been more than 25 minutes in the immigration queue.

“We would spend a fortune putting in pre-clearance and it doesn’t do anything. In Dublin, it takes probably an hour and ten minutes. You are faster post-clearance in the States,” he added.

There has been a change to US policy, which stipulates that airports must pay to build their own pre-clearance structures. Other European airports have chosen not to introduce preclearance.

Mr MacCarthy told a special meeting of Cork County Council that airport management is seeking an airline service to Bratislava, in Slovakia, and the return of flights to Nice, in France, was on their “shopping list.”

“There is a market for Bratislava. It serves Vienna and Budapest and the south of the Czech Republic,” he said.

“We will be free year-one [for airlines] for Bratislava services, as we would be in all new services. We would probably offer €30k or €40k in marketing and pay them a cheque to come in. We can’t get an airline yet who believes they have enough of a market,” he added. “Nice should come back. It won’t come back five [flights] a week, but may come back two a week,” he added.

However, Mr MacCarthy ruled out a return of a Brussels service to Cork Airport. “We had Brussels for five years and it didn’t sell. It sold six out of 10 seats and it was a loss. Amsterdam is an hour up the road and there’s a train service between the two cities,” he said. Promoting the flight had become “money into a hole”.

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