The announcement of the 18-flights-a-week service will increase by almost 180,000 the number of available seats in the airport’s annual capacity, and will bring to five the number of airlines operating out of Cork.
Aer Lingus is expected to announce a new Cork to Dusseldorf service next Monday.
CityJet executive chairman Pat Byrne said he sees huge potential for growth out of Cork.
“There is a lot of potential for direct routes out of Cork to points in continental Europe, with the right aircraft size — that’s hugely important,” he said.
Cork Airport managing director Niall MacCarthy said the announcements prove that the tide is turning in terms of the airport’s passenger figures.
“Over 800,000 passengers from the region already travel on our existing London services each year, making it the most popular destination from the airport,” he said.
“With the new CityJet service, we expect this to increase further in the months ahead.”
The airport is now confidently predicting a return to passenger growth in 2016.
CityJet announced the route at a press conference at the airport yesterday.
Mr Byrne said the airline, which he founded in 1993 and which operates an all-jet fleet of 95-seater BA146’s, will re-fleet soon with longer range 93-110 seat aircraft.
“We believe that gives us the right platform for routes into Europe out of Cork, both for scheduled services and for the inclusive tour market, which is coming back with a vengeance.”
He said CityJet has seen 50% year-on-year growth on its Dublin-London City route, and is confident the Cork route will be a success.
“The main reason for this growth is because the leisure market has discovered that this is not just a business airline, and London City Airport is not just a business airport,” he said.
“From disembarking the aircraft in London, you can be in the West End within 35 minutes.”
The airline is poised to launch a major marketing and promotional drive targeting business and leisure passengers in the south.
Tickets from €35 one-way went on sale online yesterday for the new service, which will operate three times a day, five days a week, with one return flight on Saturdays and two flights on Sundays from October 1.
The airline provides free drinks and snacks onboard and offers a 23kg free check-in baggage allowance.
Mr MacCarthy said the service will increase competition on Cork’s existing London routes and open up destinations including Antwerp, Avignon, Nantes, Paris (Orly), Florence, and Toulon, to outbound passengers.
There was a broad welcome for the service, with Cork Chamber president Barrie O’Connell, who said it will enhance the region’s connectivity and he urged the business community to support it.
Darragh Brady, chair of the Cork branch of the Irish Hotels Federation, said the service will help boost visitor numbers from Ireland’s largest tourism market.
“The challenge is to ensure all opportunities are explored to grow passenger numbers and promote Cork internationally as a business travel and holiday destination,” he said.