A prominent Government TD has said his Transport Minister colleague Paschal Donohoe was wrong to rule out exchequer support for debt-ridden Cork Airport.
Cork TD Jerry Buttimer said a far-reaching plan was needed to reverse the airport’s decline, and that could mean the need for more state funding.
“I don’t think you can rule anything out at the moment. I would like to see greater efforts to market the airport made,” the TD said.
Mr Donohoe took a hardline stance on the airport’s future, stating it was up to management and the DAA to turnaround falling passenger numbers. He also ruled out letting Cork Airport have the special status afforded to Shannon.
Junior Minister Dara Murphy urged more resources to be put into marketing the airport.
“The DAA is very profitable, and they must now put the same energy into Cork Airport as they do into Dublin.
“It has decided in 2012 that Cork Airport would stay with the DAA and it is not doing as badly as some people say. Passenger number have declined, but it is still the second biggest airport in the country.
DAA chairman Pádraig Ó Ríordáin told the Oireachtas transport committee last month the Government should consider subsidising the Cork-Dublin air route through a Public Service Obligation (PSO) payment after passenger numbers dropped 5.1% in 2014.
Mr Ó Ríordáin also said Cork Airport was at a disadvantage compared to other airports, pointing out that, during the separation of Shannon Airport from DAA (formerly Dublin Airport Authority), Shannon had €100m in debts written off and now had properties that generated substantial rent.
He also said Kerry Airport had the advantage of direct state subsidy of certain airlines flying there on the basis of a PSO contract.
Cabinet Minister Simon Coveney said state-aid rules may rule out a PSO.
“I think that subsidising routes is always difficult. I think we would rather see big airports like Cork and Shannon growing passenger numbers and increasing the number of routes that they service on a commercial basis rather than actually having to subsidise individual routes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny warned uncertainty over the IAG bid for Aer Lingus could not drag on. Siptu greeted assurances from airline CEO, Stephen Kavanagh, that staff would keep existing terms after an takeover, with scepticism.
CSA Czech Airlines is launching a twice weekly route from Cork to Ibiza this summer.
The route, operating from June 11 to September 21, will add over 8,000 seats to Cork Airport’s schedule.
“This addition is great news for passengers in Munster as this is an exclusive new route for the region,” said airport MD Niall MacCarthy.
Ibiza attracts 6m visitors each year. Although Ibiza Town is recognised as a Unesco World Heritage site, the island is best known for its nightlife and clubs.
CSA Czech Airlines already flies Cork to Prague.
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