AER LINGUS has defended its decision to cancel Thursday night flights from Cork to the international hub of Amsterdam, saying the planes are being deployed to sun destinations instead ‘so that the people of Cork and surrounding counties can get some much-needed summer sunshine!’
The airline made the rather unusual comment in a reply to a query from The Southern Star, after MEP Deirdre Clune criticised the decision to cancel the Dutch flights.
Last week the Ireland South Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune called for the reinstatement of the cancelled flights from Cork to Amsterdam.
She said that in recent weeks, Aer Lingus had reduced the number of flights operating on the Cork-Amsterdam route, removing a critical Thursday evening flight from the schedule.
The Cork-Schiphol flight is a vital route for the Munster region, providing connectivity and access not only to Amsterdam, but also to onward flights through this international airline hub, as well as excellent train access across Europe through Schiphol Airport Railway Station, Ms Clune told The Southern Star. ‘Passenger numbers on the Cork-Amsterdam route are generally high with flights regularly fully subscribed,’ she claimed, saying this route has been popular with business, political and consumer travel interests.
‘I regularly use the Cork-Amsterdam flight as an option to commute to Brussels and have always found the flight to be full or close to full. It makes no sense to remove such a vital and busy flight from the schedule,’ she added.
‘A number of businesses in the Munster region require this connectivity with a major European hub, and access to a number of destinations in Europe. I would ask Aer Lingus to provide a full explanation and to reinstate this flight as soon as possible,’ she said.
But, in response to The Southern Star, Aer Lingus issued this statement: ‘Demand for city destinations declines in the summer and demand for leisure destinations increases, thus aircraft that serve Amsterdam in the winter months have been deployed to leisure destinations such as Alicante, Las Palmas and Barcelona so that the people of Cork and surrounding counties can get some much-needed summer sunshine!’
However Ms Clune, pointed out in response: ‘Aer Lingus are not serving Amsterdam from Cork on Thursday evening from March 29th to November 1st, and that’s 30 weeks.
‘Last year they did the same on Wednesday evenings for 10 weeks. I do not believe passengers on that route view Amsterdam as a city destination – rather it is a major international hub. Amsterdam is a very important connection for those working or carrying out business across Europe. It is also an important connection for visitors to the south of Ireland for the same reasons. That activity does not stop for 30 weeks of the year,’ she added.
Referring specifically to the ‘sun’ comment from Aer Lingus, the MEP, who is the only Irish member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism, said that she welcomed routes to sunspots over the summer months and she hoped they result in increased visitors to the south west area. ‘But, for Cork, a region that is promoting itself as an economic area seeking investment and job creation, certainty around flight connections to international hubs such as Amsterdam, Heathrow and Paris is very important.’