Published on April 24th, 2016 | by Jim Lee


Cork Airport sets out its stall in Kraków in a bid to attract new airlines and routes

The aviation industry has headed to Poland for the 11th annual Routes Europe forum in Kraków this weekend, to plan future European air services (23rd-26th April), and in a bid to attract new airlines and routes, members of Cork Airport’s Management Team joined them, and set out their stall, in a highly competitive market.

The event is one of the largest regional aviation conferences in the world and will see airlines, airports and tourism authorities, from across Europe, come together to do business. Routes Europe was first held in Warsaw in 2006 to bring together airlines, airports and tourism authorities to discuss air services to, from and within Europe.

This year, Kraków Airport is hosting the event with 1,200 of the most influential aviation professional, from across the world in attendance, from 110 airlines, 310 airports and 40 tourism authorities, at the EXPO Kraków convention centre.

Since joining the European Union (EU) in 2004, the Polish aviation industry has been boosted by the free movement of people and goods. Air passengers in Poland have increased by 12.5% to 30.6 million in 2015, with much of the expansion being driven by the low-cost carriers that have entered the Polish market. Kraków and the surrounding Małopolska region are known for their historical and cultural attractions which drew almost 14 million visitors in 2015. The tourism industry has helped to fuel the 11% increase in Kraków Airport’s passenger numbers which reached 4.2 million in 2015 (the highest in the airport’s history) and they are expected to peak at 4.6 million this year.

It is an airport where Ryanair serves over 30 destinations. Ryanair began serving Krakow on 1st October 2005 from its London Stansted base. By the summer of 2008 only four further routes had been added; to Dublin, East Midlands, Liverpool and Milan/Bergamo. More routes then followed and eventually in April 2013 the airport became a Ryanair base. In total it has served 37 destinations from Krakow of which 33 are still operating this summer, although Cork was one of the routes dropped.

Picture. John Allen

The team from Cork Airport, Anita Gackowska, Head of Aviation Marketing, Mathias Richter Aviation Marketing Specialist and Niall MacCarthy Managing Director

Niall MacCarthy, Cork Airport’s Managing Director will lead his airport’s delegation to the Routes Europe forum. “Promoting the region and Cork as the gateway to the South of Ireland is at the heart of what we do. We have a really busy few days ahead at Routes Europe, which is a great event to do business at. We ultimately secured the Düsseldorf route with Aer Lingus through discussions that started at the conference last year. We are hoping to emulate that success this year and build on it,” he said.

“Cork Airport has cemented its position as the busiest and best connected international airport in the country after Dublin, serving over two million passengers each year. We’re continuously working to build on this, introducing new routes and serving even more passengers,” he added.

Mr. MacCarthy is being accompanied by Anita Gackowska, Head of Aviation Marketing and Mathias Richter, Aviation Marketing Specialist at the three-day event. The airport team will spend time meeting with airlines and airports as part of their ongoing relationship building and data sharing strategy. Major European airlines in attendance include Air France, Alitalia, British Airways, Iberia, KLM Royal Dutch Airways, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines and low-cost carriers Ryanair, easyJet, Norwegian, Vueling, Wizzair and Airlines from outside Europe such as Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Air Canada, WestJet, Qatar Airways, Etihad, All Nippon Airways and China Southern Airlines will also be present.

Cork Airport CJA2_7629

The team marketing the Wild Atlantic Way using Virtual Reality goggles.

Marketing Cork Airport and Cork as the Gateway to the South of Ireland is at the heart of their approach. This will include working to secure new routes for tourism as well as business to support the thriving ITC and Pharma industries in the region.

Delegates at Routes Europe will also get the chance to hear from industry leaders at the conference element of the event, the Strategy Summit. The speakers exploring the latest airline issues and trends include Fernando Estrada, Chief Strategy Officer at Vueling; Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Finnair; and Jochen Schnadt, Chief Commercial Officer at BMI Regional.

For their part, the Cork Airport Team are bringing a Virtual Reality tour of the Wild Atlantic Way to Routes Europe, which will give delegates the opportunity to remotely experience a 3D tour of Ireland’s famous coastal route. The VR experiences which are accessed through VR goggles included are;

  • Beach horse-riding on Ireland’s most beautiful beaches
  • Climbing some of Europe’s tallest sea stacks
  • Surfing the crest of a wave off Ireland’s beautiful west coast
  • Cycling through some of the most beautiful rugged landscapes on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

Fáilte Ireland has introduced these VR goggles to show buyers and potential visitors what they too could experience in Ireland. This content is also available on the Oculus store where anyone with a VR headset can download and enjoy them. The aim of providing this new technology is to ensure Ireland stands out when it comes to new experience brands such as the Wild Atlantic Way.

Commenting on Cork’s ambitions for the event, Mr. MacCarthy added: “We are attending Routes Europe with the intention of making great contacts and having discussions about securing more routes for Cork Airport. We are really keen to show other delegates just what Ireland and the Munster region in particular has to offer. By giving colleagues the chance to experience the sheer beauty of the world’s longest coastal route we’re giving them just a taster of what’s on offer. Cork offers the perfect gateway to a journey along the Wild Atlantic Way.”

Cork Airport JA2_7707Cork Airport is proud to be a sponsor of Routes Europe and in particular the Diary System which will see numerous business meetings and networking opportunities take place over the three days. This was acknowledged by Katie Bland, Director of Routes, who said: “We are really pleased to welcome the delegation from Cork Airport. I know that they have been a very productive team here in the past and I have no doubt they will take every opportunity this event presents them with. Routes Europe has a great reputation as a place for doing business and we would expect this year to build on that success.”

Marketing Cork Airport and Cork as the Gateway to the South of Ireland will be tough challenge for the Cork airport team, as they vie with other airports from across Europe, but it is at the heart of their approach. This will include working to secure new routes for tourism as well as business to support the thriving ICT and Pharma industries in the region.

However, Adrian Newton, Group Director of Aviation and Transport at UBM EMEA (the owner of Routes), noted that Kraków Airport was also in a strong position to gain more new services, which will increase its international route network. “The Polish market is important to the aviation industry because it is continuing to develop significantly. This is in the wider context of a mature European market which does not have the same capacity to grow” he added.

Dr Jan Pamuła, President of the Board at Kraków Airport, added: “Routes Europe 2016 is an opportunity to present ourselves as a modern, dynamically growing airport, boosting the attractiveness of the city and the region. We will also show the delegates around the most beautiful sites of Kraków and Małopolska.”

Cork Airport logoNot to be outdone, Mr. MacCarthy said that Cork Airport had “cemented its position as the busiest and best connected international airport in the country after Dublin, serving over two million passengers each year”. “We’re continuously working to build on this, introducing new routes and serving even more passengers,” he added.

Cork Airport is now home to more than 50 routes with nine new routes taking off this year including Düsseldorf with Aer Lingus, London City, Nantes and La Rochelle with CityJet, Madrid with Iberia Express, Cardiff with Flybe, Southampton and Leeds Bradford with Aer Lingus Regional as well as Menorca with Lee Travel and Stein Travel.

Since January there has been a 10.5% increase in passenger numbers at Cork Airport. It is expected that overall passenger numbers will rise from 2.07 million in 2015 to 2.24 million in 2016, an increase of 8%.

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About the Author

Jim has had a life-long interest in military matters and aviation. Initially, he fused both of these interests together with a passion for military aviation, initially as a photographer. He has travelled extensively over the years and has been the guest of many European air forces, plus the air forces of the United States, Russia and others throughout the world. His first introduction to journalism coincided with an interest in the civil aviation industry was when he initially wrote for and later edited, ‘Aviation Ireland’, the club magazine of the Aviation Society of Ireland. Jim was a contributor to Flying in Ireland since its inception over 10 years ago and is now a key contributor to this site. He has also contributed items for a number of other aviation magazines and has produced a number of detailed contributions to Government policy documents, most recently the Irish Government’s White Paper on Defence. He is also deeply involved in the local community and voluntary sector and has worked both in local government and central government.

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