Cork Airport and business leaders have expressed disappointment after CityJet blamed lack of demand for its decision to axe its Cork to London City Airport service from June 26 after just eight months.
CityJet’s chief executive chairman, Pat Byrne, said the demand for the 18 flights a week service was just not there in sufficient volume and at a sustainable price.
Niall MacCarthy, airport managing director, said airlines have to make decisions based on the commercial viability of routes.
“And unfortunately the service to London City was not profitable for CityJet,” he said. “Quite simply, not enough people were using the service despite intensive and exhaustive marketing campaigns.
“They are a great airline customer and we welcome the continuance of their summer season services to Nantes and La Rochelle as well as the Menorca charter service.”
Despite the blow, he said airport passenger numbers are still expected to increase by 7% to 8% this year.
“We’ve already added a number of new routes, including Dusseldorf, Cardiff, Leeds Bradford, and Southampton,” he said.
“In addition, Iberia Express will commence its new Madrid service shortly and we are also very hopeful about the prospect of our first transatlantic route in the near future.”
He also pointed out the London market is still well served from Cork with 56 flights each week to Gatwick, Stansted, and Heathrow.
Mr Byrne said they launched the Cork-London City Airport service in October against a backdrop of what they believed to be “well-founded optimism”.
“All the indicators suggested there would be strong support from both business and leisure communities, especially in view of the very significant convenience of City Airport,” he said.
“Unfortunately, with the route now in its eighth month of operation, we have been unable to achieve our passenger load factor and average fare targets.”
CityJet said it is firmly committed to operating its new summer routes from Cork to La Rochelle and Nantes, and its charter series to Menorca.
Cork Chamber president, Barrie O’Connell, said every effort was made by all stakeholders to ensure this route would be a success.
“But unfortunately the take up by passengers, leisure and business, inbound and outbound was less that had been forecast.
“Cork Airport has been successful in winning a number of new routes in the last 12 months and is on target to achieve strong single digit growth for 2016.”
Less than an hour after the decision was announced, Aer Lingus launched a summer seat sale on its Cork to Heathrow route, with fares from €35.99, and Ryanair offered €16.99 fares on its Cork to Gatwick and Stanstead routes in June.
CityJet will be in touch with affected passengers so they can avail of a refund.
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