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Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Aer Arann, today announced it is to expand its services at Cork Airport, including the addition of 50,000 seats, as well as announcing new and expanded routes.
Building on recent success, the airline said it expects to grow total passenger numbers from Cork to over 300,000 by the end of 2014, an increase of 20 per cent. A new route from Cork to Newcastle has been launched with four weekly services, building on the success of the Dublin-Newcastle route launched last October.
The airline confirmed that the decision to expand its services to and from Cork was directly related to the Government’s budget announcement to abolish the travel tax from April 2014.
The addition of the Newcastle route and expansion of other routes will increase flights between the UK and Cork to 174 flights per week. As part of a €35 million investment, two brand new Aer Lingus Regional aircraft will be based in Cork from April to service the expanded routes.
Due to growing demand from the business community, expansions on other UK – Cork routes have been announced. The Manchester – Cork route will grow from 28 to 34 flights per week, including three flights on peak days. The Cork - Bristol route grows to 18 flights from 14 flights per week. The Glasgow – Cork route capacity will grow by 10 per cent whilst existing services to Birmingham, Edinburgh and Jersey will be retained.
There will also be a doubling of capacity of flights to Rennes, in Northern France from early June. In order to accommodate tourism travel, Aer Lingus will be adding a Wednesday flight to complement the Saturday service.
Aer Lingus Regional, which aims to double passenger numbers to over two million over the next five years, has overseen a 10 per cent rise in its passenger numbers in 2013 compared to the previous year.
Making the announcement in Cork alongside the airport’s Director, Aer Arann’s ,Chief Commercial Officer, Simon Fagan said its Cork expansion programme was a key part of the airline’s growth plan, and will provide further choice for passengers flying to and from the region.
Mr Fagan said: “We are delighted to announce our Cork expansion programme. The airline is determined to grow both our passenger numbers and route network. The addition of a new service to Newcastle and increasing of our capacity on three key routes from Cork, provides real choice to the travelling public, and will serve to bring further visitors to the region.
“Our decision to move ahead with expansion in Cork is directly related to the recent Government decision to abolish the travel tax, and is further evidence that sound policies can contribute to solid growth.”
Commenting on the new Cork Newcastle route, Mr Fagan said: “Newcastle is the gateway to the North-East of England, and is a hub of commerce. In recent years there has been considerable growing economic activity between the two cities, particularly in the energy sector. We are delighted to add it to our Cork offering which is ideal for business travellers and tourists alike.”
“Aer Lingus Regional has always been committed to providing its customers with easy, convenient regional connectivity and value for money. We will continue to service our customers on these expanded routes with the quality and affordability that they deserve”, added Mr. Fagan.
Welcoming this important expansion by Aer Lingus Regional in Cork, Airport Director, Niall MacCarthy said that the announcement provides a significant boost to the regional economy in terms of business connectivity to Britain, which is Ireland’s strongest trading partner, as well as a major impetus to developing inbound leisure and business tourism in the south of Ireland.
“This is an excellent development for Cork Airport and the customers we serve. All four UK destinations have much to offer Irish passengers from both a business and a leisure perspective and the extra capacity will also be hugely beneficial for tourism across the wider south of Ireland region,” according to Mr MacCarthy. “Aer Lingus Regional will grow from 50 to 63 departures a week next summer from Cork Airport, providing 50,000 extra seats in and out of the region.
“This along with the additional 50,000 seats recently announced by Aer Lingus on the Heathrow route for Summer 2014 will sow the seeds for recovery in the market for inbound UK tourism to the Cork region. This announcement underscores Aer Lingus Regional’s strong commitment to Cork Airport and the customers we jointly serve and confirms Cork’s status as the Republic of Ireland’s second largest airport serving 2.3 million passengers annually. We look forward to further announcements of expansion and growth on our route network in 2014.
“We will be working in partnership with Aer Lingus Regional to ensure we achieve strong awareness of what Cork City, County and Harbour have to offer the UK Visitor as well as being the start point for the new Wild Atlantic Way route. The additional UK capacity will also be a boost for the development of Cork’s growing convention and business tourism numbers, with direct access from the UK’s largest metropolitan cities outside of London served direct by Aer Lingus Regional”, said Niall MacCarthy.