Managing director Niall McCarthy was speaking following the publication of a new study yesterday which reinforces the crucial role the airport plays in Munster’s regional economy, but which also shows that just one third of its passengers are inbound visitors.
The report comes against the background of declining passenger numbers and ongoing concern about securing new routes.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who raised the issue in the Dáil on Tuesday, said Cork Airport is not being allowed to “operate on a level playing pitch” and has become “very much subservient to the Dublin Airport Authority’s diktat”.
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But Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said there is no evidence to back up claims the airport is being downgraded. Fine Gael TDs met the head of the DAA yesterday to discuss the issue.
The meeting was held as the economic impact study, by InterVISTAS Consulting, found that Cork Airport is fundamental to the growth of the local economy, with key findings including:
- The airport supports 10,710 jobs — through direct, indirect, induced and catalytic employment;
- It supports 1,920 jobs at the airport itself, with airlines, ground transport, handling, maintenance, food and beverage, logistics companies, state agencies and hotels;
- It facilitates 1,170 indirect jobs through suppliers and supporting businesses involved in the supply chain of the airport’s activities;
- It supports 1,420 induced jobs, generated by the employees of firms directly or indirectly connected to the airport, spending their income in the local economy.
The study found that there are 6,200 jobs facilitated through catalytic impacts or wider economic benefits of the airport through increased connectivity and improved regional economic performance through tourism, trade in goods and services, investment and increased productivity.
The study also claims the airport contributes €727m to GDP, which equates to 2.2% of the total south-west economy — €134m as a result of direct jobs, €82m for indirect, €90m for induced and €421m for catalytic impact.
The airport’s routes network is an important factor in the region’s economic success, with 93% of 139 businesses surveyed saying the level of direct routes is an important factor when deciding to locate or expand in the region. The findings prompted its managing director Niall MacCarthy to call last night for more local support and financial backing.
“While we have a loyal customer base in Cork, we need the support from business and leisure travellers to ensure we continue the best choice of destinations from Munster,” he said.
Cork already has a reputation for attracting the best global companies, with connectivity a key issue, he said.
“As well as connecting to key destinations in the UK and Europe, we have direct routes to international hubs at London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles de Gaulle,” he said.
However, only one third of the passengers using Cork Airport are inbound visitors.
Local Labour TD Ciaran Lynch said that the study strengthened his view that a clear business plan had been absent from the Cork Airport debate to date.
“I now call on Niall MacCarthy and his colleagues to develop a strategy for the airport’s future as a matter of urgency.