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Are flights from Cork to Dublin really likely to return soon?

The head of the Dublin Airport Authority expects it to happen but Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary begs to differ

Are they coming back then?

Yes, according to DAA chief Kenny Jacobs, who stated this week, in an interview with the Examiner, that he would be amazed if the route between the people’s capital and Dublin did not return some time soon. Maybe not as frequently as it once did, in the halcyon days, when there were often more Corkies in the sky than on the Grand Parade. But as an option for those who wish to get a connecting flight from Dublin Airport without having to set foot in Dublin itself, it surely makes sense.

Doubtcha boy! So what’s the story, like?

A certain Michael O’Leary has scuppered this beautiful vision, stating he doubted the famed Cork-Dublin route – celebrated in aviation as the Champs Elysees of the sky – will ever return. Employing his legendary sharpness, he noted that there is, for instance, a big, expensive motorway now running between the southern gemstone and Dublin with a running time of two hours. He argued that there’s no way people would park, go through security and line up for the coffee when they could be halfway up the road listening to Tubs on the radio. And, he noted, they could travel by the preferred method of Cork’s many All-Ireland winning teams and buy a return ticket at Kent train station.

Sure he’s not from Cork. What does he know about it?

A fair bit. During the Boom, sailing the skies was a popular transport method for the merchant princes whenever they were obliged to travel to Dublin to satisfy themselves that its wine lists weren’t a patch on Cork’s. After Aer Lingus drastically cut back on the number of flights in 2003 – to howls of outrage – Ryanair hastily filled the void and operated three flights per day. But the completion of the motorway saw an instant change in the “load factor” from 97 per cent to 23 per cent. Cork’s biggest ever year was in 2008, when it had 3.2 million passengers. Over half a million of those flew Cork-Dublin. All of that changed. The route ended in 2011.

That’s mank. So what’s the counterview?

That Cork Airport is going to be jointed altogether. This could be its biggest year ever for international travel. Jacobs predicted it reaching capacity of five million passengers by the end of the decade. And while there never was and never will be anywhere quite like Cork, the Rebel has always had a streak of wanderlust in his/her soul and likes to explore different continents to tell people all about Cork. Dublin Airport is a convenient “transatlantic hub”.


And what about those Ryanair langers, like?

They heartily concur, actually. Ninety direct jobs will be created at Cork Airport when Ryanair launches its five additional flights, zipping happy Corkonians away for flights bound for Seville, for La Rochelle , to Venice and Rome and even the East Midlands. Three new aircraft will fly out of Cork, each employing 30 staff between cabin and pilots. It’s a vote of confidence in Cork worth about €300 million. They just won’t be flying Cork people to Dublin Airport.

But don’t those gowls in Kerry have a Dublin flight?

Yes, but Michael O’Leary said that it takes a good five hours to get from Kerry to Dublin by road. He said that flight “is now taking place on a green, clean aircraft, so I think that’s acceptable”. The train takes a good three and a half hours and is often filled with Kerry All-Ireland football legends.

They’re backward like, in fairness. We’re haunted. And tell us this, boy: why would anyone ever want to leave Cork anyway, like?

Have me there, boy.

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan

Keith Duggan is a features writer with The Irish Times