Airport ready for growth to take off

Cork Airport has strengthened its management team ahead of its launch as a “standalone business unit” in the coming weeks.

The appointments, and plans to hire a head of aviation marketing, have raised hopes that the Cork Airport Authority (CAA), which is still overseen by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), will be able to compete more aggressively for new business and routes.

The senior management changes and proposed new appointments were announced by airport managing director Niall MacCarthy in an internal communication to staff over the weekend.

Ciaran Carton will join the airport as general manager operations from Terminal 1 Management at Dublin Airport. There will be a new role of head of finance and commercial.

Niamh Flood is taking on the role of head of human resources — with some key HR staff being redeployed.

A head of aviation marketing will also be appointed early in the new year to attract new airlines, develop new routes, and grow passenger numbers.

The current marketing manager, Kevin Cullinane, will take up a new role as head of communications, with responsibility for consumer marketing, social media, and external marketing.

Mr MacCarthy said the new team would lead the airport in an exciting phase in its development.

He declined to comment further, but a CAA spokes- person said: “This announcement will ensure that the airport is best positioned to drive the business forward to growth in 2014 and beyond.”

Former lord mayor of Cork Tom O’Driscoll hailed the announcement as “hugely significant”. He said he hoped the team would help restore many routes lost to the airport since 2008.

“Now that Cork is to operate as an independent business organisation, it will be better placed to negotiate with airlines and that can only be good news for the region,” he said.

“Far too many Cork people are being forced to take the bus and train to Dublin due to the lack of direct services from Cork.

“And hopefully the new team will be able to secure a direct transatlantic service which would be a massive for tourism and investment in the South-West.”

Aer Lingus Regional meanwhile, is due to announce its 2014 expansion plans at Cork Airport tomorrow.

In 2003, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern turned the first sod for the €140m new terminal, multi-storey car park, new air traffic control building, and a new cargo village. By November that year, passenger numbers reached the 2m mark.

The following year, former transport minister, the late Séamus Brennan, announced the full membership of the board-designate for the new CAA, and the CAA plc was incorporated.

It was intended at the time that it would eventually own and operate a fully independent Cork Airport.

But the debt associated with the development of the new terminal had become a millstone around the CAA’s neck, and it became the focus of a major political row.

Despite Shannon’s separation from the DAA in Dec 2012, and breaking even this year, the CAA still operates under the DAA.

Cork’s new terminal building opened to passengers in Aug 2006, and the airport went on to break the 3m passenger number for the first time in its history.

The figure dropped again in 2010 to 2.43m — a 12.4% drop on the previous year.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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