CORK won't thrive as a business centre without better transport links, particularly by air, the head of major employer EMC has said.
The lack of meaningful transport links to the southern capital are causing huge issues for businesses in the region, and may prevent future investment in the Munster region, Bob Savage told the Irish Independent.
EMC employs close to 3,000 people at a site just outside Cork city.
Mr Savage, who heads up the US multinational's Irish operations, said the lack of air links to Cork is a critical problem for companies based in the south of the country.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Savage said air access was a "big problem" for his firm and the wider area.
"The big issue is air access. If we have customers coming from anywhere, bar London, Amsterdam and Paris, it is two flights to get here. That means that as a company we have to work even harder and provide such a valuable experience that it is still worth coming here – but it is a huge challenge.
"Cork Airport has no direct flight to Dublin, the train is still a bit slow, and then Shannon has its own issues – so that is a huge challenge for us.
"Then again, if we can create the critical mass here, then it will become an economic decision to run flights from Cork," he added.
The executive called on the Government and the wider business community to play a part in promoting access to Cork, in particular the fact that travellers to the US can clear immigration in Ireland.
"The State has a part to play but certainly Cork Airport, it is a fantastic airport but we don't have the access. We have US customs clearance here and we have to leverage that," he added.
EMC is one of the biggest data businesses in the world and is focussed now on 'big data' – the growth in huge amounts of unstructured data, as it is known, "will change our lives", Mr Savage claimed.
Interview, Page 5