Written answers

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

State Airports

Photo of Michael McCarthyMichael McCarthy (Cork South West, Labour)
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800. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the efforts being made to reinstate domestic flights from Dublin to Cork; if he will restore this service in view of the fact that new services to the US, Canada and the Middle East are scheduled from Dublin airport during 2014 and it is essential that Cork and its hinterland can benefit from seamless onward connections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3729/14]

Photo of Jim DalyJim Daly (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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815. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps being taken by the board of Cork Airport to develop a route between Cork and Dublin Airports to ensure adequate connectivity for the Cork area to the growing number of routes in Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4056/14]

Photo of Michael McGrathMichael McGrath (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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816. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider establishing a PSO route for air services between Cork Airport and Dublin Airport in view of the need for air connectivity between the country's two largest cities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4098/14]

Photo of Jim DalyJim Daly (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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817. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps he is taking to ensure that Cork Airport is assisted to grow to its full potential in the coming years as the economy begins to improve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4104/14]

Photo of Jim DalyJim Daly (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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818. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider the strategic importance of Cork Airport to the development of the west Cork economy noting in particular the reliance of west Cork on tourism; the steps he will take to ensure that any future plans to develop the airport will ensure adequate input from the west Cork area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4105/14]

Photo of Jim DalyJim Daly (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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819. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the offer from Ryanair to take over the old terminal building at Cork Airport to develop a hub; if he has discussed this proposal with the board of Cork Airport; if he is satisfied that the proposal has considerable merit and is being considered by the board of the airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4106/14]

Photo of Jim DalyJim Daly (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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820. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps being taken by the board of Cork Airport to attract new routes to the airport; if he is satisfied with the level of growth being achieved by the airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4107/14]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Minister, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport; Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 800 and 815 to 820, inclusive, together.

As the Deputies will be aware, both Dublin and Cork Airports are owned and managed by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) which operates under a clear commercial mandate.  The development of Cork Airport, the promotion of new routes at the Airport and the issue of air links between the two airports, are matters for DAA and Cork Airport management and are not matters in which I have a direct role, although I am willing to be supportive in any way that I can.

With regard to the establishment of a PSO route, the Deputies will be aware that in 2011 the Government reduced the number of routes covered by PSO air services to two, Donegal and Kerry, in line with the recommendations of the Value for Money Review of Exchequer Expenditure on the Regional Airports Programme. This Review took account of a number of factors including the performance of the services, the requirement to make best use of scarce Exchequer resources as well as improvements in  alternative transport modes and changes in EU legislation covering PSO services. Any such PSO service would require EU approval that is far from certain and therefore, it is not my intention to revisit this decision in relation to the Cork to Dublin route.

I understand that Cork Airport management has ongoing discussions and dialogue with Ryanair on the development of new routes and services. I am pleased to note that Ryanair increased its business there by almost 30% in 2013. There is adequate capacity to handle any such expansion in the existing terminal.  I also understand that the question of the use of the old terminal does not arise as it has been decommissioned for use as an airport terminal.

I am of course conscious of the importance of Cork Airport in the development of the economy of the region as a whole, in particular, tourism. This is one of the reasons why DAA are now in the process of establishing a Development Council for Cork Airport. This Council will provide for strong engagement with, and alignment among, key stakeholders in the Cork region and will serve to foster a common understanding, particularly at local level, of issues of concern, potential opportunities for growth and the operating performance of the airport. I hope the Council will be successful in its work as a vibrant Cork Airport will ultimately benefit both Cork and the wider region.

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