Ryanair’s Cork return a hailed as ‘good news’ for people and the economy

Ryanair is to reopen its two-aircraft base at Cork Airport, hailed as ‘wonderful news’ signifying ‘a huge vote of confidence in the region’, writes Amy Nolan
Ryanair’s Cork return a hailed as ‘good news’ for people and the economy

Twenty routes Winter and Summer out of Cork Airport were announced by Eddie Wilson CEO Ryanair DAC. He is pictured with Ryanair staff Natlia Matloch and Lindie Murphy. Picture Dan Linehan

RYANAIR yesterday announced a $200m (€170m) investment in Cork Airport and a full recovery of its pre-pandemic passenger capacity with the reopening of the base.

The investment will bring 20 routes to Cork, including the introduction of new services to Birmingham and Edinburgh.

The restoration of the airline’s base from December will also secure 60 Ryanair jobs.

Cork Airport and the daa have worked closely with Ryanair to extend the traffic recovery scheme to the end of October 2022 to incentivise Ryanair traffic to return to pre-pandemic levels.

At a press briefing in Cork Airport yesterday morning, Ryanair responded by announcing the reopening of its base and restoring its traffic at Cork in full for next summer.

Last October, Ryanair announced it would be closing its base in Cork for the winter due to cuts in capacity arising from Covid-19 travel restrictions.

At the press briefing, Ryanair chief executive Eddie Wilson said the airline was delighted to confirm the reopening of its base at Cork Airport.

 Twenty routes Winter and Summer out of Cork Airport were announced by Eddie Wilson CEO Ryanair DAC. Also attending the press conference were Niall MacCarthy, MD, Cork Airport and Ryanair staff Natlia Matloch and Lindie Murphy. Picture Dan Linehan
Twenty routes Winter and Summer out of Cork Airport were announced by Eddie Wilson CEO Ryanair DAC. Also attending the press conference were Niall MacCarthy, MD, Cork Airport and Ryanair staff Natlia Matloch and Lindie Murphy. Picture Dan Linehan

“This $200m investment secures 60 Ryanair jobs at Cork, but more importantly restores passenger traffic at Cork to pre-pandemic levels for summer ’22.

“Cork — along with Shannon, Kerry, and Knock — have had their Ryanair traffic fully restored to pre-pandemic levels of capacity, ensuring the recovery of tourism, jobs, and connectivity.

“Unfortunately, traffic at Dublin is set to fall by up to 35% next summer as the daa traffic recovery scheme does not have the required funding from Government to incentivise traffic recovery for the entire summer season, ending in June instead of October.

“We call on Eamon Ryan, the Minister for Transport, to urgently confirm the extension to the current daa scheme until October ’22, similar to the scheme at Cork Airport,” he said.

Mr Wilson advised passengers to book their fights early to avail of the lowest possible fares. “As people have not been booking in the same booking curve over the last 12 months, prices are currently likely to rise next summer because we have extraordinary pent-up demand and also there is less capacity in the European market — about 20% less — and people are not going to be travelling long haul for leisure purposes in the numbers that they were, and that’s likely to lead to price rises and probably price rises into December as well.

Good news for the sector 

“My advice today is to book early to get the lowest fares,” he said.

Cork Airport managing director Niall MacCarthy said he was thrilled with the announcement by Ryanair.

“Twenty routes on sale from Cork Airport on the Ryanair website will ensure that Christmas 2021, [and] spring and summer 2022 contains lots of travel options for our passengers.

“Outbound sun and city breaks, and inbound visitors from the UK and continental Europe is good news for jobs in aviation, tourism, and hospitality, and the rebound of our economy in 2022,” he said.

Importance of competition 

Speaking to The Echo, Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) chief executive Pat Dawson welcomed the news that Ryanair was to reopen its base at Cork Airport, but said it was important the airline had competition in Cork.

“We want competition in Cork for routes because we don’t want a situation where we have only one airline going to a particular airport and, therefore, prices will be put up.

“If an airline, any airline, has a route to themselves, they can charge what they like,” he said.

Mr Dawson said the demand for foreign travel is certainly there and said he expected an influx in the number of Cork families, in particular, travelling abroad next year.

“The demand will definitely be there.

“There has been a pent-up demand and, certainly, we can see many, many families who will go abroad next year — they’ve done their staycation.

“Ireland is a lovely country to holiday in, but there is a big price difference on the ground in Ireland versus on the ground in Portugal, on the ground in Spain.”

He asked that people would support Cork Airport when it reopened in November.

“They badly need the support and it’s great for the economy. It’s great for business and that’s very important,” he said.

The new schedule 

Ryanair’s Cork winter 2021/’22 schedule will serve Alicante, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gdańsk, Lanzarote, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted, Malaga, Poznań, and Tenerife.

The summer ’22 schedule will also serve Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Faro, Girona, Gran Canaria, Mallorca, Milan Bergamo, and Reus.

Cork Fine Gael senator and Oireachtas transport committee member Jerry Buttimer described yesterday’s announcement as “wonderful news”, adding that it was critical Government policy in aviation “reflects the importance of the regions, and in particular Cork Airport”.

Fianna Fáil councillor Colm Kelleher, the lord mayor, said: “I welcome the announcement made by Ryanair. The $200m investment, along with the addition of two new routes, solidifies Ryanair’s commitment to Cork.

“This announcement is not only positive on the jobs front for the airline industry in Cork, it also provides a massive boost to the local economy as a whole.”

Runway project 

Cork Airport closed its doors this month for a 10-week project that will see the reconstruction of the runway and the upgrading of the airport’s approach, airfield and ground lighting, runway edge, and centreline lighting.

The reconstruction of the main runway is being supported by Government funding of €10m and will be the fastest large-scale construction project undertaken in the State in recent years — taking just 12 months from funding approval to the completion of the main works, including EU tendering, design, regulatory approvals, and construction.

Cork Airport is investing over €40m from 2020 to 2022 to upgrade and enhance critical infrastructure.

The airport is poised to reopen on the morning of November 22 following the enhancement works.

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