Chairman of Cork Airport Authority to resign


CORK AIRPORT Authority chairman Joe Gantly yesterday announced that he is to resign from the post at the end of July but insisted that his decision had nothing to do with a recent divisive vote to accept a plan which will see the authority accept a € 113 million loan debt.

The authority issued a statement yesterday morning, saying Mr Gantly had told the board that he had informed the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, that he will be standing down at the end of July, having completed five years of service.

"When I was appointed as chairman designate of the Cork Airport Authority in August 2003, my objective was to expand the number of routes out of Cork, to increase passenger numbers, to open the new terminal and to bring Cork airport to the point of separation from the Dublin Airport Authority," said Mr Gantly in the statement

"Having achieved those objectives, I feel that it is now timely for me to stand down and allow the process of identifying and appointing a new chairman to happen."

A CAA spokeswoman categorically denied any suggestion that Mr Gantly's decision to step down was related to the highly divisive vote earlier this month when the CAA decided by six votes to five to accept a series of recommendations by former trade union leader Peter Cassells.

Mr Cassells proposed the transfer of € 220 million in assets from the Dublin Airport Authority to the CAA which would also assume responsibility for a € 113 million loan which was used to part fund the construction of the new terminal building at Cork.

The recommendations provoked controversy as, back in 2003, the then minister for transport, Séamus Brennan, had pledged that Cork and Shannon airports would commence business debt-free when they separated from the Dublin Airport Authority. Mr Gantly and CAA chief executive Pat Keohane both voted for Mr Cassells's recommendations and were joined by fellow board members Don Cullinane, Pat Dalton, Humphrey Murphy and Loretta Glucksman.

However, the proposal was opposed by the four worker directors Tom O'Neill, Tony O'Connell, Mary O'Halloran and Seán Mac Suibhne as well as Alf Smiddy while the 12th board member, Veronica Perdissatt, abstained.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin said that he believed Mr Cassells's proposals were workable and he predicted the CAA board would continue well.

"There are different views on what they can live with [in terms of level of debt] but now that the board's decision has been made, I think they are capable people and I think they should pull together and move ahead and develop the airport," said Mr Martin last week.

His Cabinet colleague, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, yesterday paid tribute to Mr Gantly for his stewardship of Cork Airport Authority and his commitments and achievements as chairman.

"Over the period of his appointment he has made an excellent contribution to the development of Cork airport. Since 2003 traffic at the airport has grown from 2 .1 million passengers in 2003 to 3.1 million passengers in 2007," said Mr Dempsey.

"During the same period the airport benefited from a €180 million capital investment programme involving a new terminal and other major improvement that will enable the airport to serve as an economic gateway for Cork and its wider catchment area.

"I wish Joe every success for the future and I look forward to working with the CAA board as it proceeds with the next steps for the airport's separation from the Dublin Airport Authority," he added.