Brian Gallagher: Cork Airport enters its fourth year of sustained growth

Niall MacCarthy, MD of Cork Airport, Tore Jenssen, CEO Norwegian Air International, partners in the direct transatlantic service from Cork to Boston Providence, USA. Picture: Brian Lougheed.

Cork Airport, Ireland’s second-largest international airport, is entering its fourth year of consecutive growth, forecasting a 7% growth increase in passenger numbers for 2019 with approximately 2.6 million passengers expected to pass through its doors.

Over 50 routes are on offer from Cork Airport across the UK, continental Europe and the east coast of the USA.

Management are committed to continuing this growth and it looks promising as weekly passenger numbers in January are up 10% already on last year.

Seats selling well for direct US/Cork route

The direct transatlantic US/Cork route to Boston Providence with Norwegian Airlines will be reinstated on April 2nd and seats are selling well.

This service runs three times weekly up to the end of October and links Cork Airport with TF Green Airport in Providence.

“Irish passengers are familiar with this route and the reaction since we introduced this service in July 2017 has been very positive”, said Brian Gallagher, Head of Aviation Business Development, Cork Airport.

Boston is like a second home for Irish people, with Rhode Island located just one hour away and the famed Cape Cod just under two hours.

The increase in American visitors, he said, using this route into Ireland has seen a new found visibility for Irish tourism through our southern gateway.

“We still have more US inbound visitors rather than Irish outbound but we expect that really is where Ireland has had its advantages with US flights as there is such a big pool interested in visiting and holidaying here.”

Since take-off on July 1, 2017 Cork Airport has seen over 31,000 passengers travel between Cork and the US on the three times weekly route.

Head of Aviation Business Development at Cork Airport, Brian Gallagher.

“This direct transatlantic service has benefitted the south of Ireland hugely in terms of inbound tourism from the US, with 60% of the passengers who use the Norwegian route being US visitors,” said Brian.

“It has definitely opened up many new doors for both business and leisure passengers in the region and has proven vital for those travelling between the south of Ireland and the east coast of America.

“Irish people now have affordable direct access form Cork Airport to popular US holiday destinations in New England such as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. This service has also given US holiday makers a significantly easier arrival into the south of Ireland, perfect for those who wish to experience the beauty the region has to offer.”

Cork Airport he said continues to work closely with Tourism Ireland to bring more visitors in from abroad.

“We work closely with Tourism Ireland across a range of carriers, both Irish and foreign, and all with different marketing activities in place.

"We grew 4% in 2018, just under 2.4 million passengers.

"In terms of short to medium term opportunities we would love a New York service but we realise there are at least another 50 regional airports across Europe that would like a NY service too.

"The west coast USA meanwhile is a long term target and not on our immediate hit list which is no big surprise when you consider West coast USA was only reinstated in Dublin in 2014.

“Passengers using the US service are a good mix from business people to those visiting friends and relatives and then pure holiday leisure traffic. The price point of Norwegian fares in particular has attracted a lot of passengers who may have travelled in Europe prior to this but are now flying to the US for the same price and that is where a lot of the stimulation has come from.”

Ireland’s second busiest airport, Cork Airport welcomed almost 150,000 passengers over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

Steady passenger growth

Mr Gallagher said it is a rewarding time for Ireland’s second largest and best connected international airport after Dublin, with a passenger growth of 4%, that is just under 2.4 million passengers in 2018.

This growth is a direct response to Cork Airport’s ongoing efforts to secure new routes and services for the region, with a further three new services launched last year.

Brian is sure of one thing.

“It will be a good year. We have eight new routes opening up for 2019, two routes launched this Winter to Lisbon and London Luton and six new routes for Summer with Budapest, Malta, Naples, Nice Poznan and Dubrovnik.

“Going forward we would like to see a combination of growth from the existing airlines, so Aer Lingus and Ryanair adding more frequencies and more routes to their network out of Cork and then new airlines adding routes out of Cork as well.

"There are a few capital cities we would like to reconnect plus some Eastern European cities that were served prior to the downturn which we would like to reinstate.

"We would also like to further develop sun destination routes in the likes of Spain, Portugal, Italy and even Greece.

“2019 has started quite well so we want to keep it going,” Mr Gallagher said.

“There’s a great positivity here at Cork Airport and we look forward to keeping that positivity in partnership with all our customers, staff and our airlines.”

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