Cork North West TD Áine Collins, who requested the meeting, broke ranks with her party colleagues last night and confirmed she will be asking DAA chairman Pádraig Ó Ríordáin “to park” Cork Airport’s debt.
The legacy debt issue, associated with the construction of its terminal building a decade ago, has been blamed for an alarming decline in passenger numbers through Cork in the last 12 months.
Ms Collins’s stance is in direct contrast to that of Fine Gael Minister Simon Coveney, and of other Fine Gael TDs in Cork, who say the airport’s debt issue is being over-stated.
However, Ms Collins said:
“The debt is strangling the airport and preventing it from competing on a like-for-like footing with the likes of Shannon Airport.
“We are haemorrhaging routes and flights as it is too expensive for airlines to consider Cork as a viable route, even though the airport can offer airlines access to over 1.2m people in the Munster region.
"If Cork Airport isn’t making money, we’ll never pay back the debt. It’s losing revenue when flights and routes are lost. We need to park the debt, give Cork Airport autonomy and drive its business growth, working with businesses and tourism bodies in the region to promote Cork and the airport.”
The meeting with Mr Ó Riordáin, who also heads up the Cork Airport Development Council, is due to take place in Leinster House on Wednesday.
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