Thursday, 12 February 2015
- Buttimer questions IAG Chief Executive, Willie Walsh, at a hearing of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications
Cork Airport has the potential to facilitate economic growth in our city and county but it needs an increase in flights and an increase in passenger numbers. Although Mr Walsh spoke well today he did not set out a vision of how IAG would grow business at Cork Airport. He failed to show how IAG taking over Aer Lingus would reverse the trend of falling passenger numbers at Cork.
Cork Airport is located in a county with a population of over 500,000 and it is at the centre of the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland. It is also located on the doorstep on an increasing number of the world’s leading technology companies. Despite these competitive advantages Mr Walsh expressed surprise at the decline in passenger numbers at Cork Airport and he contrasted this with the growth in numbers flying between Cork and London Heathrow. This underscores the importance for Cork of connectivity with Heathrow.
When I questioned Mr Walsh on his plans for Cork Airport it was reassuring that he stated he wants to grow business at Cork. He said he wants to make Aer Lingus more efficient and that we would look very carefully at opportunities. But unfortunately Mr Walsh failed to give any specifics that would benefit Cork other than restate his commitment to maintain the Heathrow slots for five years.
When Mr Walsh was head of Aer Lingus he grew passenger numbers from Cork, he clearly knows the potential of Cork Airport. Today was an opportunity to ask him how he sees the future of Cork Airport and what his company IAG can do to help increase airline traffic at Cork Airport. Unfortunately we were left with no answers.”