Published on October 20th, 2016 | by Jim Lee0
Cork Airport celebrates its 55th birthday as new service to scheduled Verona announced
Cork Airport celebrated its 55th birthday on 16th October, having been officially opened on that date in 1961, following proving flights four days earlier by Aer Lingus and Cambrian Airways. Four years earlier, the Government had agreed in principle that Cork Airport should be built at Ballygarvan, and by the time construction started, the cost was estimated at a million pounds or around €27 million in today’s money.
Earlier this summer, the airport celebrated the 10th birthday of its terminal building, which opened its doors on 1st August 2006, for arriving passengers, and from 15th August for all passengers. That year the airport handled over three million passengers and since then, over 25 million people have travelled through Cork Airport’s ‘state of the art’ terminal.
In a comment, Niall MacCarthy, Managing Director at Cork Airport said: “It is heartening to mark the 10th anniversary in a year which has seen remarkable growth in new routes and capacity, new airlines and greater choice at Cork Airport firmly placing us as the largest airport in the Republic after Dublin. We plan to consolidate that growth with further announcements for 2017”.
In the first nine months of the year, the airport handled nearly 1,755,000 passengers, some 136,000, or 8% more, than January to September 2015. The monthly breakdown is given below.
On 7th October, Cork Airport announced that Volotea, the Spanish low cost carrier, will operate a new scheduled service from Cork, to Verona in Italy, famously the home of Romeo and Juliet. The schedule commences in June 2017, and will operate weekly through the summer season, until September, adding 4,600 seats to the schedule of services next year.New scheduled service from Cork Airport to Verona announced
Volotea operates a mix fleet of four Airbus A319s and 19 Boeing 717s, the majority of which are operated on the Irish register, although the airline is based in Barcelona. Volotea will use the Rolls-Royce equipped 125-seat Boeing 717, on the 965 mile (1,553 kilometres) flight. The aircraft is renowned for its reliability and for passenger comfort, due to its limited five seats per row, In 2017, Volotea will operate over 240 routes across 15 countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Czech Republic, Israel, Albania, Moldova, Portugal, Malta, United Kingdom, Austria and Ireland. The airline has carried nine million passengers since it was first established in 2012.
Niall MacCarthy, said, “We’re delighted to expand our choice of destinations with Volotea, a new scheduled airline partner. We have served Verona before as a charter destination but now travellers in both Munster and Northern Italy will be able to book flights online and this will increase tourism in both directions. 2016 has seen our traffic grow significantly and we are confident this growth will continue in 2017”
Cork remains disappointed that Norwegian’s foreign air carrier permit still not approved
Cork Airport believes the biggest win for Cork, and the wider Munster region, will be the addition of direct low cost transatlantic services, once the logjam over the US licensing for Norwegian Air International Limited (NAI), is finally resolved. “We are hopeful that the recent intervention of the EU Transport Commissioner Violetta Bulc together with the support of the Irish Government will get this over the line” said Mr. MacCarthy. This was in reference to reports that Commissioner Bulc had sent a letter to US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, informing him of the EC’s decision to resolve the impasse through arbitration. However speaking in the Dáil on 4th October, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross said that his Department continue to liaise with the European Commission regarding the matter, adding that the “next step in resolving the issue” would be for the Commission to initiate a formal arbitration under Article 19 of the EU-US Open Skies Agreement and Minister Ross “would fully support such a step”.
Readers will recall that on the 15th of April 2016, the US Department of Transportation published a tentative decision to grant NAI the foreign air carrier permit required by the airline to operate the proposed Cork to Boston route. A public consultation on this tentative decision was completed on the 23rd of May. It is now a matter for the US Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, to decide whether to confirm that tentative decision or not. It is hoped that by granting the permit there will be no need to initiate a formal arbitration. The EU-US Open Skies Agreement Joint Committee will meet again in November, which will provide a further opportunity for the matter to be raised with the US side and this issue could be immediately resolved if the US authorities grant NAI its permit.
The Minister added “I am confident that the Commission, if necessary, will take the appropriate action under the Agreement to help resolve this dispute. I look forward to a decision being confirmed by the US Department of Transportation as soon as possible so that NAI can start operating the new route from Cork to Boston and other new transatlantic routes”.
Cork continues to improve its services and facilities
Cork we continue to develop its facilities, which included the addition of a second airbridge in recent months, which is fully utilised. In 2017, a significant modernisation and upgrade of the food and beverage areas in the airport is planned, with much more facilities and fresh choice airside after passengers go through security. Mr MacCarthy added that “some interesting concepts are being explored now which will be in place for Summer 2017 and which I am sure passengers will greatly welcome”.
As part of its ongoing commitment to be at the forefront of safety, Cork Airport has also added a modern, next generation fire fighting vehicle to its fleet, known as an Avenger, which will replace an older machine, which has served the airport’s Fire & Rescue Service for many years.
The Avenger has upgraded off-road driving ability, high spec firefighting systems, improved scene illumination capability and enhanced equipment carrying capabilities.
As well as the investment in the new vehicle, Cork Airport is also significantly invested in the development of a new, state of the art aircraft firefighting simulator. The simulator allows for extremely realistic training scenarios to be applied within the ongoing training programme, ensuring the crews are fully prepared for any situation that may be encountered at the airport.
Jim Johnson, Chief Airport Fire Officer at Cork Airport said that the purchase of this modern and highly capable vehicle will further add to the airport’s high standards and represents an overall investment of over one million euro in firefighting, rescue and environmental compliance all of which is funded from the airport’s own commercial resources.