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Travel agents criticise Cork Airport's plan for 10-week closure in autumn to upgrade its runway

The Irish Travel Agents Association said that there will be “a pent-up demand” for travel around September and October.

Arrival hall, Cork Airport.
Arrival hall, Cork Airport.
Image: Shutterstock/Phil Darby

CORK AIRPORT IS to close for 10 weeks from mid-September to late-November to facilitate works being done to its only jet-capable runway. 

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has said it is disappointed with the decision. 

“The Association believes that this work could have been undertaken earlier in the year, while the airport was operating a reduced flight schedule as a result of Covid-19 travel restrictions,” it said.

Passenger numbers at Cork airport are down 99% currently, compared to 80% across all Irish airports.

A statement on Cork Airport’s website, published on 31 March, said that as just 200,000 passengers are expected this year, versus over 1.5 million passengers expected next year, the Airport would push ahead with “two operationally significant and major capital investment projects” to get them completed with “minimum disruption”.

The plan is for the Airport to be open during the summer, before works are carried out on the runway over “a short 10-week off-peak period” in the autumn.  This will mean the airport can “reopen for what we plan will be a busy Christmas and a bumper 2022″.

The airport is also launching “two different traffic incentive schemes” to rebuild its route network, which aims to “significantly reduce airport charges at Cork Airport below their previous level (which have not increased once in 15 years) and will also result in our charges being below the level to be charged in Dublin Airport over the same period”. 

But the ITAA said that there will be “a pent-up demand” for travel around September and October, with many people looking to travel abroad for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

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ITAA CEO Pat Dawson said: “While we understand that it is essential to have the runways resurfaced, this is a long standing issue which should have been addressed before now. With so few people using the airport at the height of the pandemic, it would have been easy to work flight schedules around completing the runway upgrades in order to allow the airport to reopen when the threat of Covid-19 has passed.”

He continued: “We believe that there will be a pent up demand from the public for international travel in the later part of this year, as people continue to receive vaccinations against Covid-19.

Cork Airport has already lost some of its routes to other larger airports. The travel trade will be negatively impacted by this, because due to these runway upgrades it is looking like they will have no product to sell from Cork Airport until 2022.

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