‘CORK Airport’s time has come,’ CityJet boss Pat Byrne said last week, adding that he hoped the airline would eventually site a base and permanent crew at the airport.
The airline chief was in Cork to announce two more routes from Cork – to La Rochelle and Nantes in France. The airline will operate a twice weekly service to La Rochelle on Tuesday and Saturday, while Cork–Nantes will be a weekly service each Sunday from June 18th.
Speaking to The Southern Star, the CityJet founder who, earlier this year, rejoined the airline as executive chairman, said he was always interested in starting routes from Cork Airport.
‘Cork was always on my mind – in fact I wanted to do this before, but I couldn’t board backing,’ he said, referring to his days with the airline before its troubled takeover by Air France.
Now back at the helm, the airline boss is pushing ahead with his ambitious plans.
Despite launching his Cork-London City service recently, and last week’s unveiling of the French routes, Mr Byrne said he’s not yet finished.
In fact, he has major plans for the Cork runway. ‘I would like to see a CityJet base here eventually – which would mean jobs, with a crew and engineers based here. We also hope to launch more routes, but probably towards the end of next year or beginning of 2017.’
‘Cork Airport’s time has come,’ he told the business breakfast meeting, organised by Cork Chamber and speaking later to The Southern Star he reiterated that he felt there was huge potential in the region.
He added that the airline was in talks with Failte Ireland to promote the region, including the Wild Atlantic Way, which starts in Kinsale.
‘I mean, look at Kinsale, for example,’ he said, ‘what other European city has a Kinsale? This is a fantastic region.’
He encouraged businesses in the audience to think of the opportunities that the flights could offer them for advertising – whether via the CityJet in-flight magazine, or on-board flyers – and also invited them to see beyond London City, and view the other destinations that they can link into from there.
Fortunes have turned
Meanwhile, Cork Airport has welcomed the two new routes from CityJet as well as increased services by Aer Lingus for Summer 2016.
As well as the CityJet plan for two new routes to La Rochelle and Nantes in France,
Aer Lingus announced its summer schedule, which includes additional capacity on its Paris, Barcelona, Palma and Faro services from Cork.
The announcements by both airlines means over 2,300 additional seats each week from Cork Airport for the summer months to seven destinations that are exceptionally popular with Irish tourists.
Niall MacCarthy said that the were further evidence that ‘the fortunes have really turned at Cork Airport as we head into next year with solid growth in passenger numbers’.
Aer Lingus had also already announced that it is to double its service to Tenerife for the winter season, which starts at the end of this month.
Mr MacCarthy added: ‘These are very exciting times for Cork Airport and we are delighted to be in a position to announce a series of new routes and additional options for some summer favourites. We are in a very good position to grow over the coming months and years but the important thing now is for passengers from Cork and surrounding counties to support the new routes. Only with this support will we be able to continue to offer the best connectivity of any airport outside of Dublin.’