The Government has been urged to halt the alarming slide in passenger numbers at Cork Airport after Aer Lingus pulled the plug on its Cork to Brussels route for the winter.
Chamber CEO Conor Healy said it was very disappointing to see another key link between Cork and mainland Europe being suspended and he criticised the Government’s draft national aviation policy.
He said Cork Airport is under- represented in the document, which he said identifies very clear, progressive visions and policy proposals for Dublin and Shannon airports, but a much more limited and ad hoc focus on Cork.
“The limited development and elaboration on Cork Airport’s role within the draft plan must be rectified,” he said. “There must be a far stronger government focus on the future of the airport, otherwise we will see more of this.”
Despite an intense and sustained marketing campaign by a range of tourism bodies and generous route support from the airport, Aer Lingus said there was just not enough demand to sustain the Cork-Brussels service this winter.
Seán Sherlock, junior minister at the Department of Foreign Affairs, said the decision would hit business interests across Munster.
“Cork requires a direct link to Europe and I will be speaking with Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe, and stressing the necessity for a meeting with Cork Airport management to remedy the situation,” he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Tom O’Driscoll said the decision is very concerning. “This is not just another sun route. This is the EU capital and it is very important in terms of trade and political links,” he said.
Cork Airport said the route had been on a “watch-list” for some time. Despite benefiting from its new route incentive scheme, generous marketing support, and promotional support from the airport, Tourism Ireland, Visit Brussels, the Cork Convention Bureau, Cork Chamber, and others, it had proven difficult to make it a viable, sustainable route, an airport spokesman said.
However, Aer Lingus will retain its Malaga, Tenerife, and Munich routes through the winter.
Aer Lingus Regional is expected to announce increased capacity on its Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow routes next week.
Cork to Lapland flights will also launch in December, operated by Sunway/Lee Travel.
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