Question to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Dr Leo Varadkar, TD)
To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the development of Cork Airport for transatlantic routes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 5th November, 2013.
Given the status of Cork as the State’s second largest city with a large concentration of population and industry, I would welcome trans-Atlantic flights to and from Cork. Currently, many people travelling trans-Atlantic to and from Cork travel through UK or European hubs having to ‘back-track’. It would be preferable if they could connect through a US city or fly direct to Cork and would be beneficial for tourism, business and family connections.
Both Dublin and Cork Airports are owned and managed by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) which operates under a clear commercial mandate. As such, the promotion and development of routes at Cork Airport, including transatlantic routes, is a matter for the DAA and the airport management in Cork and is not a matter in which I have a direct role though I am will to be supportive in any way that does not breach state aid or competition rules or laws.
Under Open Skies agreements, there are no regulatory obstacles for airlines who may wish to operate transatlantic services from Cork. I understand from Cork Airport that they are actively seeking an airline to operate a service to the east coast of the US. I would hope that airlines will consider the opportunities that such a route could provide, as well as other routes to the UK and mainland Europe. In that regard, I strongly welcome the announcement that Ryanair is to commence a new service to East Midlands from 6 November and Aer Lingus Regional is to increase its number of flights this winter to Birmingham and Manchester. This will improve the connectivity between the cities for both tourists and business passengers.