Cork Airport runway project a ‘model’ for how other large-scale projects can be delivered

The Taoiseach was in Cork today to officially open the newly reconstructed main runway - a project which he said “future-proofs a critically important strategic asset”.
Cork Airport runway project a ‘model’ for how other large-scale projects can be delivered

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has officially opened the newly reconstructed main runway at Cork Airport at a ceremony today. Pictured at the ribbon cutting, were from left: Cllr. John Sheehan, deputising for the Lord Mayor of Cork; Bishop Fintan Gavin, Bishop of Cork & Ross; Bishop Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne & Ross, Church of Ireland; Basil Geoghegan, daa Chairman; An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, TD; Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director, Cork Airport; Hildegarde Naughton TD, Minister of State at the Department of Transport; Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Michael McGrath TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform; Dalton Philips, daa Group CEO; Cllr. Seamus McGrath, deputising for the Mayor of the County of Cork; Gearoid Lohan, CEO, Colas Ireland Limited.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the runway reconstruction project at Cork Airport is “a model” for how projects in the National Development Plan (NDP) can be delivered.

The Taoiseach was in Cork today to officially open the newly reconstructed main runway - a project which he said “future-proofs a critically important strategic asset”.

At a ceremony on the new-and-improved runway at Cork Airport, Mr Martin was joined by Minister Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department of Transport and senior cabinet members along with civic and business leaders to witness the result of the single biggest investment by any Government at Cork Airport.

The runway reconstruction project marks 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 construction works.

Micheál Martin with Managing Director at Cork Airport, Niall MacCarthy, and Michael McGrath at the official opening. Picture: Amy Nolan.
Micheál Martin with Managing Director at Cork Airport, Niall MacCarthy, and Michael McGrath at the official opening. Picture: Amy Nolan.

“It is my great privilege today to officially reopen the newly reconstructed Cork Airport runway and mark the successful delivery of the 10-week reconstruction project,” Mr Martin said.

“This project future-proofs a critically important strategic asset for Cork, the south-west region, and for Ireland for many years to come.

“The investment by the Government of €10 million in this project will ensure continued, essential, connectivity - connecting people and places, families and friends, economies and businesses; with enormous benefits for the city, the wider region and for the country.” 

Mr Martin said the airport, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last month, has played an “essential role” over the decades in “boosting the economic and social wellbeing of Cork and its people”.

He said the reconstruction project is “a model for how we can deliver other projects in the NDP”.

Mr Martin said that Government is “committed to building strong, regional strategic cities”. 

“They have to shoulder a lot of the weight in terms of the future population growth and economic development of this country and that’s where this investment fits in, in terms of overall strategic vision in terms of growing the region and this will help us in that regard.

Cork Airport a national asset 

Minister Hildegarde Naughton described Cork Airport as “a key strategic national asset”.

“Before the arrival of Covid-19 to our shores, Cork Airport was on a strong growth trajectory with over 2.6 million passengers recorded in 2019.

“It has been connecting people, places, families and businesses for the last 60 years.

“The whole team here have been unwavering in their focus on recovery and building a successful future for Cork airport.

“This is clearly seen in the return of airlines and services to the airport along with new services such as the new weekly service to Geneva this winter operated by Swiss International Air Lines. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will double its daily service between Cork and Amsterdam Schiphol from next week,” she continued.

Ryanair investment

Ms Naughton also welcomed Ryanair’s announcement in recent months of a $200 million investment in Cork Airport and a full recovery of its pre-pandemic passenger capacity with the reopening of its two aircraft base.

She said that she hopes to announce funding for Cork Airport as part of the Regional Airport Programme in the coming weeks.

“Our continued investment in Cork Airport demonstrates the confidence that I as Minister, and Government as a whole, have in the future growth of the airport and the region it serves,” she added.

Managing Director at Cork Airport, Niall MacCarthy, said closing the airport for a 10-week period was a difficult but necessary decision.

“The massive runway reconstruction project was completed on schedule and within budget in a 10-week construction period, during which the airport made the brave decision to close completely to undertake the reconstruction works and be delivered in a quicker time, in a safer environment and with less long-term impacts on airlines and passengers than an alternative of night time closures next year over a 10-month period next year,” he said.

Bishop Fintan Gavin, Bishop of Cork & Ross (right) and Bishop Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne & Ross, Church of Ireland performing a blessing at the opening ceremony.
Bishop Fintan Gavin, Bishop of Cork & Ross (right) and Bishop Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne & Ross, Church of Ireland performing a blessing at the opening ceremony.

Over 430 people were employed by the main contractor Colas Limited, daa’s integrated delivery partner Bechtel and multiple subcontractors including Atmac Construction, Atkins - a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, Brooklyn Engineering Services, FLI Carlow and Lagan Asphalt Group on the project management, engineering, design and construction of the runway to complete the project on time.

In addition to the rebuilding of the main runway, upgrade works to the airport's approach, airfield and ground lighting, runway edge and centreline lighting together with all its drainage and ducting systems have been completed.

Mr MacCarthy said today marks a “very proud day for everyone associated with Cork Airport”.

“Rebuilding and reopening the new runway at Cork Airport is a major milestone on our road to recovery post Covid-19.

“Rebuilding major infrastructure is always disruptive but we have confined the disruption to a short 10-week off-peak period and now we can reap the benefits of recovery.

“Seeing the quality of the finished product today is a testament to the tight teamwork undertaken by our airport team, our daa group team and all our skilled construction partners," he said.

Speaking to The Echo, Mr MacCarthy said the runway reconstruction project is an exemplar in terms of major capital projects 

"The State can deliver infrastructure on time and to budget. 

"This project is delivered to the day we said on the day we contracted and within budget. 

"It can be done and so when everyone wraps around together and mobilizes in a project, the State can do great infrastructure together."

Mr MacCarthy spoke with confidence about the future of the airport and said that with continued support he hopes it can once again become “an engine of growth for the South of Ireland economy”.

Contractor proud to deliver landmark project

Colas, with their Irish head office located in Maynooth, was awarded the main runway contract following an extensive EU tender process.

The project to reconstruct the main runway (16/34) was supported by Government funding of €10 million from the Department of Transport, announced in November 2020 with the balance of the funding coming from Cork Airport’s parent company, daa plc, to complete the project.

“Colas were proud to secure this contract with daa,” Gearoid Lohan, CEO of Colas Ireland, said.

“The daa and Cork Airport deserve great credit for taking the courageous decision to close the airport to deliver this major project.

“The ability of Colas to draw on skills and experience from around the Colas Group has been a key part of delivering within the condensed and challenging timescale.” 

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has officially opened the newly reconstructed main runway at Cork Airport at a ceremony today. Pictured is An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, TD cutting the cake to mark the occasion accompanied by Hildegarde Naughton TD, Minister of State at the Department of Transport; Dalton Philips, daa Group CEO and Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director, Cork Airport. Picture: Brian Lougheed
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has officially opened the newly reconstructed main runway at Cork Airport at a ceremony today. Pictured is An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, TD cutting the cake to mark the occasion accompanied by Hildegarde Naughton TD, Minister of State at the Department of Transport; Dalton Philips, daa Group CEO and Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director, Cork Airport. Picture: Brian Lougheed

Carl Fergusson, CEO of Colas Ltd, said the company is proud to have been involved in delivering “such a landmark large-scale reconstruction”.

He praised the collaborative effort of all involved and the “team spirit” shown by everyone during the project.

In total, daa is investing over €40 million at Cork Airport over a three-year period between 2020 and 2022 to upgrade and enhance critical infrastructure.

As part of this capital programme, Cork Airport is also investing in the construction of a new Electrical Sub-Station for the airport early next year.

The airport has stated that these investment projects have sustainability and green energy efficiency as a priority.

The electrical upgrade will reduce the runway electrical carbon footprint by 70%.

Cork Airport has also recently completed an upgrade of its Hold Baggage Security screening system at the airport to ensure that checked in baggage complies with the latest and highest international standards at a cost of over €12 million.

The airport will reopen to the public on Monday.

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