THERE is a “reasonable chance” that Ryanair won’t reopen its Cork and Shannon bases next summer, the airline’s CEO Eddie Wilson, told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport last week.
He also slammed what he feels is a slow response to the crisis from Ireland. “Looking at Cork and Shannon, I would say that the mood among our staff is utterly despondent as to what is going on and how it was allowed to happen without any intervention. We have more than 80 locations throughout Europe where our aircraft are based, similar to Cork and Shannon, and we must make commercial decisions about all of them. This limping along is not going to do anything for anybody. Life will be difficult enough as Europe works its ways through the current spike of infections and until confidence returns at some point with the introduction of a vaccine. It is hard to get across how truly extraordinary it is that this country – an island nation that needs air connectivity more than most – instead of leading the pack in seeking to bring aviation back in a more expedited way, is actually at the bottom of the class in this regard.”
He warned that the Irish tourism sector could be particularly hard hit if things don’t change. “If there are no aircraft coming into the country, there will be nobody coming here to fill the hotel rooms and visit the attractions. We are making our decisions with that prospect in view and the Government needs to get to grips with it. No other airlines are coming in. Operators throughout Europe are getting much smaller and airports already realise they need to attract people for next summer. Other countries are working on that but nothing is being done here in Ireland. It is a shame.”
He said that Ryanair want to return to the two Irish bases, but that the State’s help will be required. “We are committed to Shannon and Cork Airports but the demand is just not there at the moment. November is typically one of the worst months to try to stimulate people to travel and pricing is not going to do that. It is the policy failures of this Government and it needs to rapidly do something about it before this situation gets worse. It does not affect our colleagues there at the moment because, unfortunately, they have already been laid off and we would hope to have them back next summer. I hope there is some action as a result of this meeting, in particular by the Minister, to adopt the aviation task force recommendations and put something in place for next summer to attract traffic back into Cork and Shannon Airports.”