Is M8 motorway to blame for lack of flights into Cork?
One of Ireland’s biggest cities could be losing out on some valuable tourism – because the motorway leading into it is too good.
As well as tourism, the lack of flights is also a major headache for commuters who live in Cork.
However, there could be good news on the horizon for transatlantic travellers.
Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association, said: “Our members in the southern region are very concerned about the lack of route choice out of Cork, and the lack of competition.
“The problem is that there are roughly 10 planes a day of Cork people flying out of Dublin where there is an airport there for them. The motorway is used as an excuse, and that’s fine, they’re great roads.
“But if you’re from Cork and you’re flying out of Dublin you have three hours on the road to get to Dublin Airport, and you have to check in two hours ahead of your flight. The motorway is being used by the airlines as an excuse not to promote Cork.
“If you asked 10 planes of Dubliners every day to drive to Cork to get their flights there’d be riots in the morning.
While Dublin is the bigger city, the difference in the number of flights is disproportionate – and causes problems for people from both cities.
Mr Dawson continued: “Dublin has approximately 3,000 flights a week leaving in the summer. Cork has a little over 200. It is disproportionate, and is causing problems in Dublin. Last week there were queues of over an hour to get through passport control in Dublin.
“Airlines have also cut one million charter seats out of Ireland.
“The tour operator business in Ireland is almost dead and buried. In 2007 there were 1.3m chartered seats leaving this country, now it’s less than 200,000.
Mr Dawson believes a third operator would be needed to give things a shake-up. There are plans for Norwegian Airlines to introduce flights from Cork to Boston but Mr Dawson is worried that it might not happen anytime soon.
He said: “It would be huge for Cork, but I don’t expect anything on it until the elections are over in the US. Maybe in March 2017, we might see something, but it would make Cork a real international airport.
“I would like to see more visibility of senior politicians in Government and in opposition, they need to be more vocal, it is vital for the airport.”
If and when Norwegian Airlines introduce their Cork to Boston flights, it could set the ball rolling for other airlines to introduce transatlantic flights.
Mr Dawson said: “Aer Lingus will follow suit. Everyone is watching this thing to see if it will happen, but it really has to be pushed and pushed by politicians, not every two or three months when news comes out.
“If Norwegian got the go ahead today, Aer Lingus would have a 757 ready to go tomorrow.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling