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A Regional Development Fund is essential for Cork Airport
Last updated on 28 Jul, 2015
A vibrant, successful Cork Airport is crucial to attracting tourists and foreign direct investment to Cork and the South West Region.
Last week saw some good news for Cork Airport and boost to tourism in the region, with the announcement of new route to Dusseldorf, Germany’s third largest airport with a population of 11 million people. The Cork to Dusseldorf route will begin in May 2016, operating twice weekly on Wednesday and Sunday.
While this announcement provides some respite; there has been a serious decline in Cork Airport under this government. With 2.43 million passengers in 2010, this has fallen to an expected 2 million this year, while passengers to Shannon and Dublin rose by 18.7% and 6.5%.
The decline is a direct result of legislation brought in by Fine Gael and Labour to abolish Cork Airport Authority (CAA) and put the Airport under direct management of the Dublin Airport Authority. At the same time, this government made the incomprehensible decision to write off debts at Shannon Airport, while Cork remained unfairly hampered with legacy debts of €113 million. As a result, Cork has found it difficult to compete with Shannon’s low-costs.
Rather than continuing to push the race-to-the-bottom model this government has pursued encouraging Shannon to undercut Cork, we need a comprehensive and sustainable policy solution to the benefit of the region as a whole. Minister Noonan cannot get away with just prioritising Shannon Airport.
I have called upon the government ministers in Cork to stand up and support my call for an Airport Regional Development Fund for Cork Airport. This would be a far more positive model of state support for Regional Airports, with the aim to increase overall inbound tourism and business routes to the Region as a whole. The Cork Chamber of Commerce also support this proposal as they know how important the airport is to the region.