Business

Friday 24 November 2017

Cork Airport: Biggest queue is just three deep

Cork's new terminal is losing business

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary wanted to make Cork's old terminal a hub for his budget carrier. But Cork Airport, or rather their Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) owners, chose to keep it moth-balled
Ryanair's Michael O'Leary wanted to make Cork's old terminal a hub for his budget carrier. But Cork Airport, or rather their Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) owners, chose to keep it moth-balled
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

It's 10.14am, and there are 14 people queuing at the check-in desks at Cork Airport.

There are 29 check-in desks in total, most of which are empty.

This is despite the fact most people would assume mid-morning should rank as a busy departure period in the airport of Ireland's second city.

The biggest queue, if you can even call it that, is just three passengers deep.

No-one is flustered and passengers get checked-in and drop off their bags in a matter of minutes.

Everyone seems to have time for a chat.

In fact, it is disconcertingly quiet and, for two 90-minute periods in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon, Cork Airport can almost appear passenger-free.

Cork's €120m terminal - opened in 2006 - is gloriously relaxed and travellers have no difficulty securing a seat to read the paper or simply enjoy a coffee.

Unlike Dublin Airport, where passengers often appear frantic at potential check-in delays which can impact on their ability to clear long security lines in time for their flight, Cork is charmingly stress-free.

UK passengers, in particular, seem to love it, although judging by Cork's terminal statistics there are far fewer of them than there were seven years ago.

"You're through in a matter of minutes - I love flying through here," one London traveller said.

"But you would think it would be a little bit busier? Is it because of the economic problems in Ireland?"

The terminal's eastern façade now stares down on the old arrival and departures building which is lying empty and idle.

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary wanted to make it a hub for his budget carrier.

But Cork Airport, or rather their Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) owners, chose to keep it moth-balled.

That old terminal was instrumental in helping Cork break the three million passenger figure.

For a period, Cork was one of the fastest growing airports in Europe and even securing a long-sought transatlantic route seemed only a matter of time.

Cork was also famed for having an imitation fireplace in the old baggage reclaim area - giving a homely-feel to the entire airport.

Before the old terminal was shut down in 2006, the airport operated on the catchy marketing theme of: 'Small Airport, Big Heart'.

The late celebrity chef Keith Floyd, famed for some of his alcohol-fuelled escapades in nearby Kinsale, once joked that Cork Airport was the only pub he knew which had a landing strip attached to it.

Now, Cork has a gleaming steel-and-glass terminal which cost €120m.

The only problem is that one-third the number of passengers which once passed through its doors are now apparently flying via somewhere else.

Irish Independent

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