Cork Airport is targeting further transatlantic opportunities as well as more city and sun destinations in 2019, while a decision on the future of Waterford Airport is said to be imminent.
Newly appointed head of aviation business development at Cork Airport, Brian Gallagher said every regional airport in Europe "would love more opportunities" for transatlantic flights, which first took off from Cork in July 2017 when Norwegian flew to Providence, Rhode Island.
However, low-cost long-haul model Norwegian then ruled out its proposed flights from Cork to New York City, citing the runway at Cork Airport as being too short to allow its aircraft to fly the extra distance from Providence to New York.
Mr Gallagher said that Norwegian's calculations did not mean other airlines and aircraft could not make the trip, and that Cork was ambitious in its targets for attracting more transatlantic flights.
"Norwegian put us on the transatlantic map, and it has been a great addition to Cork Airport.
He cited the Boeing 757 mid-size narrow-body aircraft as one that had the range, saying the runway was "not necessarily an obstacle" to American destinations.
Boeing rival Airbus is currently enhancing its A320 Neo family of jets that analysts say will be 15% more fuel-efficient -- which would theoretically eliminate the short runway obstacle for airlines.
Mr Gallagher, whose most recent role as airline business development manager for Dublin Airport, will oversee partnerships with airlines, tourism partners and business stakeholders, to deliver continued route expansion and growth, Cork Airport said.
"My focus is not just growth in one area, but in many such as enhancing our city breaks and sun destinations. Cork Airport was very successful last year, and is on a good trajectory upwards, forecasting a 7% increase in passenger numbers for 2019," Mr Gallagher said.
It comes as speculation increases that Waterford Airport could be on the cusp of a new lease of life, after being in the commercial flight doldrums since mid-2016.
Transport Minister Shane Ross said in the Dáil last week that he would bring proposals to the Cabinet on the future of the airport following a review conducted on by EY on its viability.
Waterford Airport management has submitted a proposal to extend the runway, which it says would considerably enhance the airport’s commercial appeal and attract new carriers, having been without any commercial flights since mid-2016.
The airport saw routes to Luton, Birmingham, and Manchester by Aer Southeast fail to materialise in 2017, as the airline did not secure the required licence.
The proposal for the airport is said to include €5m of public funds, €5m in private investment and €2m from Waterford City and County Council.
According to a report in the Munster Express, Council Chief Executive Michael Walsh told councillors that he expects a decision from Government to be made quickly and that if greenlit, the airport could be fully operational by the spring of 2020.