Cork Airport has announced that it will close from September 12 until November 22 to reconstruct its main runway.
Cork Airport stated on its website, "Given the low volumes predicted for this year (c200,000 passengers) versus the much higher volumes predicted at Cork Airport next year (over 1.5million passengers), we are progressing two operationally significant and major capital investment projects to get them completed with the minimum disruption. The €12 million upgrade of the hold baggage screening security system is nearing completion and will be commissioned in June. The largest construction project to be undertaken since the building of the new terminal and ancillary buildings in 2005 will be the reconstruction of our main runway, which will be completed over a 10-week period from September 12 - November 22. We will be open this summer, for whatever flights are operating, and we will then complete the runway project over a short 10-week off-peak period allowing us to reopen for what we plan will be a busy Christmas and a bumper 2022."
Cork Airport continued, "Cork Airport's only jet capable runway has been in operation since 1961. It was originally 1,883m long and was extended by a further 300m in 1989. Since its construction, the runway’s only overlay was in 1999. This was completed on the original runway element only. Therefore, the pavement on the original runway is now 21 years old and the extension is 31 years old.
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"A runway that is in constant use 24/7/364 degrades over time. Cork Airport typically has more than 22,000 commercial landings annually and also facilitates thousands of smaller aircraft each year. Over time, a busy runway will develop deep structural cracks and the runway deteriorates significantly with foreign object debris (FoD) becoming an ongoing potential hazard.
"Cork Airport's runway has been kept safely operational through a programme of daily FoD checks and a programme of remedial repair works, which has been carried out annually for several years.
"This area is subject to heavy regulation from our national and European regulators, the IAA and EASA, and we are undertaking these works in good faith to remediate and upgrade the infrastructure, and we are committed to addressing all safety concerns as part of the works planned.
"The reality is the runway at Cork Airport is now life expired and now needs significant investment to extend its life for another 15 years."
Cork Airport added, "With passenger numbers currently down 99%, it makes prudent business sense to fast-track major capital investment projects now, while the airport is extremely quiet.
"In terms of the runway reconstruction, this project needs to be done and was originally scheduled starting Q4 2022 and out to Q2 2023 over nine months. Irrespective of the pandemic, this project would have been proceeding with night-time works over these nine months in 2022/2023, with significant adverse passenger and airline impact in a 2.6-2.8m passenger environment.
"However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a unique opportunity where we can close the runway for a much shorter 10-week period this autumn, in a shoulder period after the summer, and get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. This will save considerable time and money, is much safer in construction and aeronautical terms, and impacts a fraction of the annualised 200,000 passengers we predict in 2021 rather than the 1.5m we predict for 2022 or, for that matter, the 2.6-2.8m passengers we would have in a normal year.
"We have engaged extensively with our airline customers and stakeholders, and the vast majority agree with our approach, acknowledging, as we do, that no option comes with zero impact to operations. We are conscious that the alternative approach would reduce base operational capacity/efficiency by 20-40% in what should be a recovery year of 2022. We have carefully examined the options and we are opting for the best solution possible. It has the lowest airline and passenger impact, it is safer from an aviation and construction perspective, it is more secure from an aviation security perspective, it is substantially cheaper to construct, and it avoids lots of diversions arising from nightly closers and facilitates CAT 2 availability whilst open.
"The added advantage of getting it done now in 2021 is that the months of June, July and August are unaffected and we will be strategically positioned to reopen aggressively in December to ensure that our airline customers can face into 2022 ready to regrow their business, get people back to work at our airports and in the skies, and Cork Airport can return to being the fastest growing airport in the country.
"There is no easy way to do this work, but we are confident that we have made the right decision in the best interests of our business, the wider aviation community and the Irish economy."
Q1 2020 Passenger Traffic
The above news follows last week's news that the number of people that passed through Cork Airport declined by 97% year-on-year during the first three months of 2021 to a little more than 10,000 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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