Kelly calls for inquiry into DAA’s role in Cork’s transatlantic debacle and its impact on Irish aviation
An inquiry into the debacle around Norwegian Air International’s Cork services and, in particular, the DAA’s role in this has been called for today by Deputy Alan Kelly.
Reacting to the announcement that the airline is to suspend its winter services for 2018/2019.
Deputy Kelly said:
“The penny has even dropped a lot sooner than anticipated that the DAA’s ‘Cork play’ for its inaugural transatlantic service was ultimately a Trojan Horse for Dublin.
“A little over 12 months ago when, amid much fanfare in Cork, Norwegian Air International announced its new Irish services, I warned that this was a Trojan Horse for Dublin Airport and, regrettably, so it has proved.
“The Taoiseach welcomed it, Minister Simon Coveney welcomed it; every Government politician welcomed it but it is now shown to be a complete stitch-up for Dublin. It was as clear as day that the airport that was really going to benefit from the push for Cork’s first scheduled transatlantic services was, in fact, Dublin.
“An enormous and honourable effort was put into this by all the key Cork stakeholders, with no mention in the two year plus campaign to get this across the line of Dublin getting any service. It was a Cork play. But amid the smokescreen of celebration in the tent, the dead hand of the DAA on Irish aviation was very evident on the outside. Instead of this being a great day for Cork Airport, it got just three services to Providence, Rhode Island with a promise of Stewart New York to come. Dublin, much to everyone’s surprise, got 12 services to New York and Rhode Island.
“And now, just a year later, we are looking at Cork having nothing at all, to either New York or Rhode Island, and Dublin’s return is now a staggering 21 daily services.
“If ever we needed proof of Dublin Airport’s monopoly being hugely negative in the national interest, this is it. We have just had the National Planning Framework/Project 2040 published and one of the key areas that we waited for it to address was aviation. Instead, it has effectively earmarked €3bn of investment for Dublin Airport through a new runway, metro and control tower. Nothing for Cork. Nothing for Shannon.
“Today is a bad day for government and it’s so called interest in balanced regional growth. It makes a mockery of it.
“Let’s look at the statistics. Over the last six years, Dublin airport has grown its passenger numbers by 10.5m in that time, Cork has dropped theirs by 40k and Shannon has grown theirs by 300k.
“Across the last five years, 96% of all air passenger growth to and from the state was achieved through Dublin Airport alone.
“I am now calling for an inquiry into not just how all of this transpired but also into the DAA’s aviation agenda in Ireland, it’s impact in skewing economic development towards the capital and how this can be reversed as a matter of urgency for Cork and for every other region.”