Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
568. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the engagement he has had to date to ensure the viability of Cork Airport; his views on a recent announcement that Aer Lingus intends to suspend two routes from its summer 2015 schedule; his further views on fears expressed for the future of the airport which has experienced a 5% fall in traffic so far this year; the steps he will take to ensure the future of this airport given that it is critical to the overall economic growth and development of the region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44944/14]
574. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to maximise Cork Airport's potential as a hub for improving business and increasing tourism in the Cork region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45217/14]
575. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to concerns regarding Dublin Airport Authority's management of Cork Airport; and his views on same. [45218/14]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 568, 574 and 575 together.
As the Deputies will be aware, the DAA is the body charged with statutory responsibility to manage, operate and develop Dublin and Cork Airports. In these circumstances, responsibility for addressing the fall in passenger numbers and the viability of the airport is a matter for DAA and Cork Airport management, and is not a matter in which I have a direct role.
Since the Government decision to maintain Cork Airport as part of the DAA Group, the DAA has put in place arrangements for the airport to be run as a stand-alone business unit within the Company, properly resourced at management level locally. In addition, two of the members of the DAA Board represent Cork, thereby ensuring that issues pertaining to Cork Airport are considered at the highest level.
Since coming into office, I have met the Chair and Chief Executive of DAA and, last September, I visited Cork Airport and met with the Managing Director and some local public representatives to discuss the challenges and opportunities for growth that exist for the Airport. I have also had the opportunity in recent weeks to meet with Cork Chamber of Commerce and Cork Airport was discussed at that meeting.
I am very aware of the importance of Cork Airport for business and tourism in the Cork region. I am also aware of the continuing decline in passenger numbers over recent years at the Airport. This is why, at the request of my predecessor, a high level stakeholder body, the Cork Airport Development Council (CADC), was established by DAA. The aim of the CADC is to provide a forum for senior stakeholders from a range of sectoral and geographic backgrounds who have an interest in the development of Cork Airport to engage with management at the airport and to help contribute to traffic and route growth. The Council is chaired by DAA Chairman and comprises senior representatives from the tourism and business sectors in the Cork region who are actively engaged in achieving the goals set for the Council.
I believe that there are opportunities, particularly in the tourism sector, to grow incoming passenger numbers to the Cork region. I am calling on all relevant stakeholders to work together to exploit those opportunities and to deliver benefits not just for the airport but for the wider region.
In relation to the intention of Aer Lingus to suspend routes from its summer 2015 schedule, it should be noted that it is a matter for the airline to decide which routes they will serve based on their own commercial judgements, taking account of the demand for services. Any decision to suspend a route is an operational decision for Aer Lingus management. I am nevertheless disappointed by the decision of the Company in this instance.
I am aware that the DAA's objective is to halt the decline in passenger numbers in the short term and to return Cork Airport to growth in the future. I am confident that the DAA and Cork Airport management, working with the stakeholders in the region, can achieve this objective.