Cork Airport is not planning to increase airline charges, as talks with carriers over a return to full services after the Covid crisis continue.
The news follows Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary saying a strong recovery at Cork is unlikely because the airport needs to lower its access costs.
"We don’t think there will be a recovery in Cork," said Mr O'Leary. "It will be delayed because there's a very high cost of operations in Cork – there will not be a rapid recovery at airports where there will be price increases, we need much lower costs – lower access costs – if we're to restore Irish tourism."
However, Cork Airport has claimed it is offering “generous” cost discounts to all customer airlines in a bid to aid recovery from the Covid crisis.
Ryanair closed its bases at Cork and Shannon airports last October amid Covid travel restrictions.
Last month, the airline said it would reopen its Shannon base in April – albeit with diminished capacity – after being offered suitably attractive recovery incentives.
It warned at the time it may not reopen its Cork base ahead of this summer if it did not receive improved financial incentives to house planes there.
The airline said in December that an incentive offer put forward by the DAA – which operates both Dublin and Cork Airports – did not go far enough.
“We are in ongoing commercial negotiations with all of our airline customers on how to plan for a recovery for our business when it is safe to recommence international travel again later in 2021,” said a spokesperson for Cork Airport.
Mr O’Leary’s comments came as Ryanair posted a loss of €306m for the third quarter of its financial year and said it expected a full-year loss of up to €950m, illustrating the effects of the Covid crisis on the airline industry.
Citing the continuing uncertainty of Covid restrictions, the airline cut its forecast for passenger numbers to between 26m and 30m.
The Ryanair chief is predicting a recovery for European aviation this summer, but only after “a write-off” Easter as it awaits for the rollout of vaccinations.
Mr O’Leary said the airline would tap recovery in the summer season as the UK vaccinates a large part of its population in the coming months and urged Ireland and the rest of Europe to catch up.
“Because vaccination is the way out of this Covid crisis and not these failed lockdowns,” he said.
Driven by vaccines, Mr O'Leary said he saw a recovery in the summer after an Easter “write-off”, but he said that optimism was needed instead of what he called pessimism from health authorities and the media.
On refunds, Mr O’Leary again claimed that everyone who requested a refund from Ryanair has received a refund and that there was “no backlog in refunds”.