RYANAIR has apologised after a spokesperson made ‘inappropriate’ remarks suggesting charges at Cork Airport should be made an election issue.
The airline issued the statement this evening, saying it did not have a problem with the current fee levels at Cork Airport, where it currently operates 19 summer and six winter routes.
It added that the airline did not think it was appropriate for airport charges to be made an election issue.
Ryanair issued the statement following comments made by its Head of Communications to Independent Travel.
"If the high charges come down, we’ll be happy to go there," Robin Kiely, the airline's Head of Communications, earlier told Independent Travel.
"But it’s too expensive... People should be getting on to local politicians who are looking for their vote to make Cork Airport a General Election issue."
Cork Airport's passenger numbers have fallen by 35pc since 2008, but it remains Ireland's second-busiest airport and recently announced three new routes - CityJet to London, Flybe to Cardiff, and Aer Lingus to Dusseldorf (from May 2016).
These, together with capacity increases on existing routes, will return it to traffic growth "from next month", said its Head of Communications, Kevin Cullinane.
"I would like to dispel any myth that Cork Airport is expensive. Our airport charges are 17pc cheaper than Dublin Airport and an average of 8pc cheaper than our European peers."
The airport has "a good working relationship" with Ryanair, he added.
Kiely maintained that Cork's "expensive" charges were being leveraged to service debt on a €120 million terminal built several years ago.
However the airport refuted this, saying the debt is being serviced by daa, and that it doesn't affect day-to-day operations or passenger charges.
In a statement tonight, Ryanair said that charges at Cork Airport are a matter of continuing negotiation between the airline and daa, which owns and operates the airport.
The airline “wishes to withdraw and apologise for these inappropriate remarks made by its spokesperson today,” it concluded.
NB. This story has been amended to reflect developments.