Identifying the issue Cork Chamber President Paula Cogan said:
“In addition to our immediate public health and business supports approach, our ability to pivot to a more sustainable economy and our global reach and connectivity will define our recovery.”
Cork airport has grown over 30% in passenger numbers from 2015 to 2019 and has been consistently the fastest growing airport in Ireland. In 2020 this growth was anticipated to continue, bringing the airport to 2.8 million passenger journeys.
Cork volume is now down 91%, compared with June figures of 95% in Heathrow and 93% in Schipol. It is expected that 2 million less passengers will travel by the close of 2020. We already have half the number of airlines and half the number of routes that were operating this time last year. Cork Airport now forecasts €23 Million in lost revenues forecast by year-end.”
Proposing a solution Paula said:
“The recommendations of both the tourism and aviation taskforces must be implemented with urgency. In complement to the international marketing fund of €32 million, capital projects must be supported by Government as they cannot be sustained by Airports that have almost no revenue. Cork Airport is excluded from regional airport support and in the current context it is essential that it receives robust capital supports.
It is evident however that marketing funds and capital supports are realistically short term measures and in no way represent a solution to the continuity of connectivity. Without viable levels of passenger numbers the already fragile airline operators will make cold strategic decisions regarding the positioning of their fleet. Steps must be taken to support the return of credible levels of passenger volume on our key commercial routes.
Mutual agreements should be made with key destinations for advanced testing of passengers at their country of origin. Put simply, in order to travel, healthy passengers would have a certificate to hand becoming as commonplace as carrying a passport and boarding card.”
Concluding Paula said:
“Carefully implemented, pre travel testing could be a differentiator that puts Ireland and partner countries in a leadership position. It is not a short-term support, it is a new way to travel as the pandemic continues to ebb and flow in locations worldwide. Complemented by a green list, and random on arrival testing, a robust trifecta would be in place providing a workable solution from both a public health and connectivity perspective.
As we now transition from the current leisure season, to traditionally business orientated winter months, marketing, capital and travel measures are not just essential for the hospitality and tourism sector but for our international business competitiveness and reputation.”