Ryanair said its base at Cork Airport will remain closed this summer due to the airport's plan to reconstruct its runway.
The airline described the decision as a 'crazy plan' and said its planes based at Cork would not be able to take off early in the morning or land later at night.
As a result, it said it will not reopen in Cork until winter 2021 at the earliest. Ryanair will continue to fly to Cork with aircraft based at other airports.
Announcing the decision, the airline again criticised the Irish Government’s international travel restrictions on the inbound airport and port visitors stating that the 300-mile border with Northern Ireland remains open.
"Micheál Martin’s Government needs to provide a clear roadmap for the recovery of Cork Airport, which in fact, continues to be the most expensive of Ireland’s major airports. It has failed to offer any Covid recovery incentives, and now plans to undertake runway works during the months of September, October and November, which would prevent Ryanair’s Cork-based aircraft taking off early in the morning or returning late in the evening," the company said.
"As the local TD, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin should be encouraging recovery incentives at Cork Airport and not further construction work at an airport that is essentially empty.
However, Cork Airport has defended the decision to carry out the upgrade work.
"With passengers numbers currently down 99%, it makes prudent business sense to fast-track major capital investment projects now, while the airport is extremely quiet," a spokesperson said.
They added that the airport has engaged with all airport users on the project including Ryanair. "The majority of our airline customers are strongly in favour of the runway work being done this year. This runway reconstruction project is vital for the future of the airport and our aim is to complete with the least possible disruption and at the lowest cost."
In November, following confirmation of plans to renovate the main runway, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin welcomed the news describing it as an important project for Cork Airport.
“Cork Airport’s main runway is the second busiest passenger route in the country and this is a vital investment to ensure it plays it’s part in Ireland’s economic recovery.
“The jobs this investment will bring will also be a very welcome boost to the construction industry and the local economy," the Taoiseach said.
The DAA, which operates the transport hub, has launched a tender process to find a contractor to resurface the 2km long runway, as well as complete new electrical works and a power substation by 2022.