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Cork Airport may be 'world class' - but it keeps on losing passengers

Traffic through the airport is going down and down.

Taoseach Enda Kenny walking alongside the Queen at Cork Airport
Taoseach Enda Kenny walking alongside the Queen at Cork Airport
Image: Maxwells/PA Archive/Press Association Images

CORK AIRPORT’S PASSENGER numbers continue to drop because of the perks handed to other Irish hubs, its management says.

The head of the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), which runs both Dublin and Cork airports, today told an Oireachtas Transport Committee that the southern hub was now in danger of being overtaken as Ireland’s second-busiest airport.

DAA chairman designate Pádraig Ó Ríordáin said Cork Airport was a ”world-class product” that was faced with the “challenging situation” of terminally-declining traffic figures.

Ó Ríordáin revealed passenger numbers last year fell nearly 5% to 2.1 million. That figure is about 15% down on the 2.43 million passengers who used the airport in 2010.

In contrast, Shannon Airport’s total passenger numbers last year grew 17% to 1.64 million.

Ó Ríordáin said much of the drop had come because Ryanair had re-routed many of its eastern European flights to Shannon, which was made independent of the DAA in 2013.

Traffic at Cork has continued to decline despite the fact that airport charges at Cork have not increased in more than 10 years and are highly competitive when compared to Cork’s peers in Britain and central Europe,” he said.

DAA DAA chairman Pádraig Ó Ríordáin

Ó Ríordáin said when Shannon Airport was split from the DAA it was given debt and asset write-downs which handed it a major cost advantage.

That meant the airport could offer more-competitive deals to airlines and poach business from Cork Airport, he said.

There is quite a bit of an advantage that is given to various airports. (Cork) is a sparkling airport, it has got fantastic connectivity, it has got a very good hinterland, but it has got decreasing numbers.”

Ó Ríordáin said there needed to be better, “cohesive” planning with tourism bodies and the government to attract inbound passengers to the Cork region.

At least they still have Dublin

Dublin Airport. Pictured a plane commi Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

But the airport chief was bullish about the performance of Dublin Airport, which last year added 8% to its traffic to end the period with 21.7 million passengers.

The country’s biggest airport was now Europe’s sixth-busiest route for transatlantic traffic behind only major international hubs like Heathrow.

Ó Ríordáin said Dublin would feature an extra 15 services this year and continue to see “strong growth”.

He added that the proposed IAG buyout of Aer Lingus has “potential positives” for Dublin Airport as a regional hub.

Cork Airport management would work hard to keep existing routes and add more services if the takeover happened, he said.

READ: Aer Lingus shareholders are nervous IAG’s takeover bid has failed >

READ: Ryanair is off the hook for millions in Irish air travel taxes >

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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