Dublin Airport Authority backs Cork’s transatlantic flight plan

The head of Ireland’s main airport operator has backed plans by Norwegian Air International to operate a transatlantic service between Cork and the US, saying the demand exists despite recent route cancellations at the airport.

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) chief executive Kevin Toland was speaking yesterday as the Authority reported a 47% increase in annual profit, for 2015, to €61m and a 21% rise in turnover to €680m on the back of record passenger numbers at Dublin Airport and a return to traffic growth at Cork in the last three months of the year.

Last week CityJet axed its Cork-London route on demand concerns, but Cork Airport boss Niall MacCarthy said there was no concern over other CityJet routes.

This time last year Mr Toland said he was “very confident” of reaching a long-term sustainable solution for Cork Airport.

Yesterday, he said that while London was already well-served by other carriers from Cork, North America is unserved. “We’re confident that there will be a good market for these services,” he added.

In the first four months of this year, Dublin Airport passenger numbers grew by 15% to nearly 7.8m, while Cork grew by 8% to 592,000. Dublin will have 13 new routes this summer, with Cork due to add eight more.

Meanwhile, DAA chief financial officer Ray Gray said, without going into specific detail, the Authority is also planning to undertake “a sizeable” refinancing programme in the coming years in order to raise funds to meet a pending bond repayment deadline and the cost of its planned new €320m runway at Dublin Airport.

ARI, the retail arm of the DAA, had a strong year both home and abroad.

Profit from its operations in overseas airports increased by 19% to €22m, while its sales from shops in Cork and Dublin surpassed the €100m mark for the first time.

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