IT’S hard to believe that it was just under a year ago when those of us working in the aviation, travel and hospitality sectors began to see the first semblance of a return to the life we all regarded as ‘normal’ for so long. With the lifting of government restrictions on international travel on July 19, 2021, the road ahead became that bit clearer.
If it’s hard to believe how fast the past year has flown, it’s even harder to imagine what a detrimental impact the pandemic had on Cork Airport and the aviation sector more generally.
At the start of 2021, Cork Airport served just two destinations – London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol - by Aer Lingus and KLM respectively. There was a brief point when KLM became the largest operator at Cork Airport, overtaking the omnipresent Aer Lingus since 1961.
With the lifting of restrictions on international travel in July of last year, the team at Cork Airport swung back into action. A significant, but not insurmountable, task lay ahead of us. The primary objective was the restoration of our route network.
From an all-time high of 52 routes in 2019 to an all-time low of 2 in 2021, every possible effort was made to restore vital international connectivity for passengers in Cork, Munster and across the South of Ireland.
Fast forward 12 months and those intensive efforts have borne fruit. Cork Airport will offer our passengers a total of 42 routes to choose from this year.
The global pandemic brought home the importance of international connectivity from this open economy on the western periphery of Europe. Moreover, the importance of having a well-connected, convenient, award-winning international airport on our doorstep is not something that should be taken for granted either.
A total of 8 airlines currently operate scheduled services from Cork Airport – Ryanair, Aer Lingus, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air France, Lufthansa, Vueling, Swiss International Airlines and TUI. Cork Airport also offers excellent connectivity to some of the major European hub airports like London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, and Zurich.
A passenger can book a ticket to any part of the world with our airline partners and get there from Cork Airport with a seamless connection en route.
Now in its 61st year, Cork Airport plays a vital role as an economic enabler for the advancement of the industrial, commercial and tourism eco-systems across the South of Ireland as the Gateway to the South of Ireland.
The airport offers unique and unequalled access to two of Ireland’s core tourism offerings - the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East. Over 150 multinational companies have a presence in the region including 7 of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies and over 60 technology companies.
Cork is set to be the fastest-growing city in Ireland over the next 20 years. As the city grows, as more companies make their home here, and as more international visitors discover the beauty of the region, Cork Airport will support that growth by catering to the increased demand for international air connectivity.
As recently as last month, Cork Airport revised its 2022 passenger traffic projections upwards. It is now anticipated that 2.1 million passengers will travel to and from the airport this year.
Cork Airport is on track to become the first airport in the state to return to pre-pandemic passenger levels of 2.6 million in 2019.
Before the pandemic, Cork Airport was the fastest-growing airport in Ireland. We are steadfast in our efforts to win back that accolade.
The growth in traffic over the short term will be hard-fought and hard-earned, but we are confident that with the strong backing of our parent company daa, our respected stakeholders and most importantly, our loyal and valued customers we can achieve that.
Planning for the future is an innate part of what we do at Cork Airport. Last autumn, a decision was made to future-proof connectivity for the next 20 years with the full reconstruction of the main-jet capable runway 16-34. The restoration of transatlantic connectivity to the east coast of the USA also remains a key objective. Our ongoing priority remains the underpinning, enhancement, and development of our expansive route network. In addition, we are committed to meeting our 2030 sustainability targets including enhanced public transport connectivity, the upgrading of our infrastructure and the introduction of new technologies for green energy generation.
The future is bright for Cork Airport. All the team here are fully committed to delivering a first-class, well-connected international airport to meet the needs of the South of Ireland as there is nothing we enjoy more than welcoming our passengers who “love taking off”.