Cork County Council calls for major push to rid airport of €113m debt

Cork County Council hopes to co-ordinate a major push to convince the transport minister and Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) to cut a deal with Cork Airport on its likely independence and to ease crippling debt.

Businesses and politicians are concerned about a drop in passengers and a continuing €113m debt at the airport.

The council is seeking to have a director of the airport board address a meeting in County Hall in an effort to decide what pressure can be applied to the Government.

County mayor Cllr Alan Coleman said it was vitally important to galvanise political and business interests to ensure its recovery.

Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said the airport had lost several routes operated by Aer Lingus and Ryanair while, in the past 18 months, Wizz Air had also pulled its Irish hub services from Cork.

“From a peak of 3.25m passengers in 2008, Cork Airport dropped to 2.1m last year. The loss of the Cork-Dublin route several years ago made up about 500,000 in those figures,” said Cllr Hayes.

“The crux of the problem is Cork is not competing on a level playing field, with Shannon especially. As Cork is still servicing a €113m debt associated with the construction of its terminal building, management say they can’t afford to offer the same route incentive supports to airlines on offer elsewhere.”

Since gaining its independence from the DAA, Shannon has been able to offer deals which allow airlines to operate effectively free of landing fees, he said.

Cork, however, saw its overall passenger numbers slump nearly 5% last year, with July figures down almost 6%.

“That compares to a 15% increase in passenger figures at Shannon for the first six months of 2014,” he said.

“Figures released show numbers in Cork were down 125,000 last year.”

He said if the council was serious about tourism promotion, it needed to ensure the airport was a viable component of that goal.

“All of this positive action to promote the county will be lost if the Government and DAA don’t view Cork Airport as a strategic part of the infrastructure and rid it of the €113m debt and allow it to flourish and compete with the other national airports on a level playing field.”

The DAA, meanwhile, is likely to see its profits jump 12% to €180m for 2014, according to ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.

“Now is their opportunity to take the millstone of debt from around the neck of Cork Airport,” said Cllr Hayes.

The councillor’s pleas for the Government to act came after Cork Chamber called for the repayment of the debt to be parked for a decade to allow the airport to stabilise and compete for business.

Cllr Sean O Donnabhain (FF) said Cork was going backwards while Shannon surged ahead. He said major companies such as EMC and VM Ware were consistently complaining about a lack of connectivity and this was damaging the region’s industrial prospects.

Cllr Michael Hegarty (FG) suggested a meeting with airport officials. It was agreed the council would contact the airport and get business leaders onboard in a lobbying campaign.

Meanwhile, Bantry-based Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said the loss of the Cork-Dublin route continues to have a knock-on effect because many tourists coming into Cork were not travelling to the West Cork region— which was highly dependent on revenue from visitors.


I’m giggling but also it is tinged with tension. I peep out from behind the large sycamore. They are three trees away.Opening Lines: I’m just a bearded wheezing giggly man on the ground

I did my Leaving Cert in June and have just started college this week, so my school experience is extremely fresh in my memory. I went to Davis College in Mallow and it was a fantastic experience. I was the loud obnoxious child at the back of the classroom from day one. I had to (and still do, by the way) have an opinion on everything.Stand up and be counted : The Young Offender's Demi Isaac Oviawe on college and school life

When I was in secondary school I started working part-time as a waitress and I suppose I caught the hospitality bug back then.You've been served: General manager at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa Caitriona O’Keeffe

That an American study has found straight women prefer dad bods (“an untoned and slightly plump male physique, especially one that is considered attractive”) to six packs and hard shiny abs comes as no great surprise.Outside the Box: Tone down guys, us girls don’t mind moobs

More From The Irish Examiner