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TDs briefed on ‘disastrous situation’ at airport

September 21st, 2020 7:05 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

At the first of three cross-party briefings for Cork Oireachtas members by Cork Airport management were Michael Collins TD, Senator Jerry Buttimer, Holly Cairns TD, Niall MacCarthy, (managing director Cork Airport), Eddie Wilson, chief executive, Ryanair and Brian Coomey, Ryanair base captain, Cork Airport.

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CORK Airport management met with local Oireachtas members in Cork on Monday to brief them on the precarious state of finances at the facility and later a Dáil deputy warned its future was in danger.

The airport had said in recent weeks that it was on course to have a dramatic drop in profits, having had a number of years of sustained growth.

In June, Cork Airport’s parent company, the DAA, said the pandemic had already cost it an estimated €160m in lost turnover for 2020.

Placing employees on a four-day week and introducing other cuts, the DAA chief executive Dalton Philips said that Covid-19 was ‘the most serious crisis that has ever faced the international aviation sector and our business.’

Management said afterwards that it would be ‘premature’ to comment on the publication of the government’s new plan in relation to the approach to international travel which should see an expanded number of countries on the ‘green list’ for travel.

Senior airline and aviation sources in Cork have welcomed the news that the Irish government will support the adoption of the common approach to air travel being proposed by the European Commission.

‘The confirmation of the importance of connectivity for our island nation for trade and employment is also welcome,’ a source said.

‘There is a priority given to protection of the Common Travel Area with the UK as it ends its transition from the EU which is critically important given the high volumes of passengers that travel to and from the UK through our airports for business, tourism and to maintain social connections with family and friends.’

Cork Airport’s managing director Niall MacCarthy met with TDs Holly Cairns (SD) and Michael Collins (Ind), among others, on Monday, and informed them of the bleak state-of-play as it currently stands.

‘It is a disastrous situation for airport staff and passengers, and for business in the Cork region,’ Deputy Cairns said after the meeting. ‘It also has significant knock-on effects for the tourism and hospitality sector in West Cork. One of the key issues that needs to be addressed is proper testing and tracing. Without it there is no possibility of a return to some normality.’

Deputy Michael Collins said that if urgent action wasn’t taken it could well lead to the closure of the airport which would be detrimental to the whole region.

 ‘It is now obvious that if rapid testing does not commence in airports immediately, it will lead to many airlines pulling out of Cork Airport,’ he warned.

 He was responding to the recent threat by Ryanair which said it would close its bases at Cork and Shannon airports this winter if the government didn’t revise its ‘green list’ of travel destinations.

Deputy Collins told those present at the meeting that he had raised the urgency of rapid testing four months ago with the then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and with several ministers in the Dail since, but it fell on deaf ears.

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