A new air link between Cork and Dusseldorf will be announced soon arising out of the proposed sale of the Government’s stake in Aer Lingus to aviation giant IAG.
It is understood that talks on the IAG takeover underpinned Aer Lingus’s decision to establish the service.
The news came last night as more details on IAG’s specific proposals for Cork Airport emerged, including the seven-year guarantee on the London Heathrow slots, commitments to continue the Paris and Amsterdam services, and a commitment to further exploit the short-haul opportunities provided by IAG’s expansive European network.
European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy said the proposed sale would be “just the catalyst for growth” Cork Airport has been waiting for after years of falling passengers numbers.
“Aer Lingus may, in the future, have been subject to a hostile takeover, with no guarantees on connectivity,” he said.
“This proposed deal has guaranteed commitments specific to Cork Airport and IAG has identified a strategic need to maintain connectivity between Cork and Heathrow, Paris and Amsterdam. And it intends to grow services out of Cork. IAG has 30 onward destinations from Paris alone. This deal is just the catalyst that Cork has been looking for.”
Cork South Central Labour TD Ciarán Lynch said the sale could deliver up to 2.5m more passengers for Ireland by 2020, providing huge tourism and business opportunities in Munster.
Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer said it’s vital that the various tourism marketing agencies get their act together to promote the region.
County Mayor, Fianna Fáil Cllr Alan Coleman, also welcomed the sale and led calls for the airport to get a major slice of the “connectivity fund” to be created by the proceeds of the sale.
Cork Airport’s managing director Niall MacCarthy said if the deal goes ahead, Aer Lingus would likely join the oneworld alliance, which would allow consumers to book seamless connecting services to and from Cork to a host of new destinations.
Cork Chamber also welcomed the proposed sale, in particular, the legally-binding, seven-year protection of the Cork-Heathrow slots.
“This is of paramount importance, given the critical importance of these slots to safeguard Cork’s connectivity for the region’s business and tourism communities,” said Chamber chief executive Conor Healy.
However, Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, Jonathan O’Brien, slated Labour for selling off state assets and branded the deal as “another terrible decision for the people of Ireland”.
Meanwhile, Kerry Airport will host one of Europe’s leading aviation and tourism conferences on June 3-5. More than 450 key figures will arrive at Cork Airport for the CONNECT Aviation Conference in Killarney.
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