Ryanair adds routes but says recovery is 'a myth'
NO-FRILLS airline Ryanair has unveiled five new routes to Poland and Lithuania.
Flights to Gdansk, Krakow, Warsaw, Wroclaw and Vilnius will take off from Cork from November.
The move comes more than a month after a mass exodus of thousands of Irish football supporters to Poland for Euro 2012, and the subsequent visit by the Poznan mayor to Dublin where he thanked Irish fans.
About 15,920 Poles, and 2,886 Lithuanians, live in Cork, according to last year's census.
Ryanair said it is growing its winter 2012 schedule from Cork airport to two aircraft and 10 routes, with the five new routes going on sale from today.
Separately, the airline has dismissed Ireland's tourism recovery as "a myth" and warned that soaring airport charges have crippled the sector with passenger numbers slashed by 24pc since 2007.
It also criticised the Government for having ignored for four months its ambitious proposal to bring five million extra tourists through Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports.
Ryanair revealed it submitted a detailed proposal to the Department of Transport and Tourism last May to bring in the extra passengers in return for a deal on landing charges.
Deputy chief executive Michael Cawley claimed the proposal has been totally ignored but the Government last night said that what is in the best interests of Ryanair shareholders may not be in the best interests of Ireland Inc.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney welcomed the expansion at Cork Airport -- but rejected suggestions growth proposals had been ignored.
"Ryanair has a job to do for their own shareholders and they have been very successful at it. But Ryanair comes to us with proposals all the time -- they also have a proposal with regard to Aer Lingus," he said.
"We have to balance that against what airports have to do, which is pay their bills and pay for strategic infrastructural investments. It doesn't mean it is necessarily the right thing for the country to do," he said.
The proposal involves Ryanair paying landing charges of €15 each for existing passengers -- but with all new passenger growth being charge-free.
It said Ireland's €15 per passenger landing charge is "so uncompetitive it is tragic".