Ryanair has announced that it will not reopen its Cork Airport base until winter 2021 at the earliest due to the airport's plans to carry out runway renovations in September, October and November.
Ryanair announced the closure of its base in Cork in October of 2020 for the winter 2020 period.
The airline has now said that Cork Airport's planned runway renovations in the autumn will prevent its Cork based aircraft from taking off early in the morning or returning late in the evening, and, therefore, it does intend to reopen its base at the airport until next winter at the earliest.
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Ryanair added that it remains committed to Cork Airport and will continue to fly to and from Cork Airport in summer 2021, but only with aircraft that are based at other airports, such as London Stansted, and it hopes to reopen its Cork Airport base in winter 2021, if Cork Airport develops a competitive recovery programme.
Responding to Ryanair's announcement that it will not reopen its base at Cork Airport before winter 2021 due to the planned runway renovations, Cork Airport said, "Cork Airport is progressing at pace its critical long-term capital infrastructure programme this year given the decimating impact the COVID-19 global pandemic has had on the aviation industry.
"With passengers numbers currently down 99%, it makes prudent business sense to fast-track major capital investment projects now, while the airport is extremely quiet.
"Management at Cork Airport has been engaged with all its major stakeholders, including Ryanair, in relation to the runway reconstruction and remediation project since last autumn. The majority of our airline customers are strongly in favour of the runway work being done this year. This runway reconstruction project is vital for the future of the airport, and our aim is to complete it with the least possible disruption and at the lowest cost. The reconstruction of the main runway, when completed later this year, will be a key strategic asset for the south of Ireland for the next 20 years.
"We have consulted more than a dozen other international airports in the UK and continental Europe which have completed similar runway projects in recent years. Airports adopt a range of technical solutions and working windows, but the aim is always the same - to complete the project as quickly and efficiently as possible, using the optimum technical solution, at the lowest cost.
"A number of options are being considered in the context of stakeholder views, with particular regard to the recovery of traffic with our major airline customers. This will be the key determinant to the delivery of these works so that we complete the runway project in the most effective and efficient manner. Public tendering commenced back in November in accordance with EU procurement guidelines for a project of this scale, and we plan to be in a position to award the contract in May.
"Cork Airport has been talking to airlines, including Ryanair, in relation to the types of incentive schemes we will offer to enable us to work together to build back our respective businesses. We will be tabling a generous incentive scheme, which will once again make charges at Cork Airport cheaper than those at Dublin Airport, to Ryanair and to other customers in the coming days. Charges at Cork Airport have not increased in more than 14 years.
"Cork Airport was the fastest-growing airport in Ireland in 2019, and management is focussed on working with our airlines and partners to secure strong passenger growth post-pandemic."
Ryanair Belfast City Airport Services
Ryanair also announced that it will resume operating services to and from Belfast City Airport this year after an 11 year absence.
The airline said that it will operate eight services to and from Belfast City Airport during summer 2021.
The eight services will operate to and from Alicante, Barcelona, Faro, Ibiza, Malaga, Mallorca, Milan Bergamo and Valencia.
Ryanair's director of marketing, Dara Brady, stated, "We are delighted to make a return to Belfast City Airport this summer, having previously operated here in 2010."
New Lufthansa Cork-Frankfurt Service
Meanwhile, Lufthansa has announced that it will operate a service between Cork Airport and Frankfurt twice weekly during summer 2021.
Cork Airport managing director Niall MacCarthy stated, "These are challenging times for aviation globally, so it is heartening to see Lufthansa make this important decision now, to start services from Cork Airport this summer. We have worked long and hard over many years to secure connectivity to Frankfurt and beyond with Lufthansa for a myriad of businesses and internationally trading companies across the south of Ireland. It is great to see this work led by our head of aviation business development, Brian Gallagher, come to fruition.
"Cork Airport will emerge once again as Ireland's second-largest airport with the most passengers, routes and connectivity. Our new partnership with Lufthansa shows our ambition in this regard when international travel recovers from the effects of COVID-19."
Meanwhile, Luftansa Group senior director sales UK, Ireland and Iceland Andreas Koester said, "We are pleased to announce that a second airline within the Lufthansa Group will be serving Cork. Starting in the summer schedule, Lufthansa will also be offering flights from Cork, alongside Swiss International Airlines, emphasising the importance of Ireland within our network. Furthermore, with this additional connection, we are looking forward to offering our customers even more travel options within our world-wide, multi-hub system. As one of the largest carriers in Europe, with just a short stopover in Frankfurt, our customers will have access to hundreds of connections to numerous destinations within our vast, global network."
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