Ryanair seeks government sweetener to restore Cork Airport base

Airline warns it may not reopen Cork Airport base ahead of summer if it does not receive improved financial incentives
Ryanair seeks government sweetener to restore Cork Airport base

Ryanair has said improved cost incentives will be needed if it is to re-open its base at Cork Airport before next summer.

Ryanair has warned it may not reopen its base at Cork Airport ahead of next summer if it does not receive improved financial incentives to house planes there.

It said what has been offered already by the DAA is not enough and government action is needed.

The airline closed its bases at Cork and Shannon in October, for the winter months, amid Covid-19 travel restrictions, with a view to reopening in April.

It said it will reopen its Shannon base in April, but with a diminished offering. 

Ryanair previously based two planes at Shannon and operated 16 routes. From April, it will operate 14 routes and have just one plane based there.

According to Shannon Airport, Ryanair will review the resizing of its base next year.

Ryanair said Shannon has delivered incentives ahead of the summer 2021 season in anticipation of a pick-up in passenger demand on the back of a vaccine rollout. 

It said the restoration of a Shannon base would safeguard more than 330 direct and indirect jobs.

However, it said Transport Minister Eamon Ryan needs to “urgently” introduce incentives on airport charges to support passenger recovery at Dublin and Cork airports.

“Without recovery incentives, passenger capacity at Dublin will fall and Cork as a Ryanair base may not re-open for summer 2021,” the airline’s chief executive Eddie Wilson said.

In a bid to boost flight activity, the DAA — which operates both Cork and Dublin airports

— last week said it was offering incentives to airlines, including discounts on airport charges based on passenger numbers.

Briefing media at Shannon, Mr Wilson replied “clearly” when asked if what Shannon Airport is offering in terms of incentives is superior to DAA terms.

“Otherwise, we would be in Cork and Dublin and not in Shannon today," he said.

Mr Wilson said the DAA's incentive offer "doesn't go far enough" and the responsibility for a widespread improved airport charges package lies with the Government.

“There will be significantly reduced capacity in Europe next summer and unless the Irish Government secures that connectivity now, unfortunately it will go elsewhere in Europe where governments, regions, and airports are actively engaged in securing this vital infrastructure, along with the much-needed employment that it will generate,” Mr Wilson said.

Last month, the Government announced an enhanced support package for Irish airports, with Cork in line for nearly €14m more and Shannon getting an extra €8.4m than was laid out in the budget.

“Cork Airport, which hasn’t increased its charges in 14 years, is working with airline customers in relation to the provision of a generous discount scheme for 2021 and will launch that scheme early in the New Year," a spokesperson said.

Elsewhere, Aer Lingus has received US approval to be included in a transatlantic joint venture which will control over half of the US-Ireland passenger flight market. Aer Lingus’s share of the US-Ireland flight market is 44% and the alliance — which also includes American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair — will now control a combined 60%.

Meanwhile, EasyJet has deferred the delivery of 22 Airbus jets from 2022 to 2024 to 2027 to 2028 in a bid to ease pressure from the fallout of the pandemic.

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