THE Taoiseach Micheál Martin was back on home turf last Saturday to officially reopen the newly reconstructed runway at Cork Airport – heralding the ‘take off’ of a new era its almost 60-year history.

illed as the fastest large-scale construction project undertaken across the State in recent years, refurbishment took just 12-months from funding approval to construction.

The project, which was grant aided by the Government to the tune of €10 million with the balance coming from the airport’s parent company daa , is part of an €40 million investment to upgrade its critical infrastructure for envisaged strong growth into 2022.

Other planned works over the coming year will include the upgrading of the airport’s approach, airfield and ground lighting, runway edge and centreline lighting together with its drainage and ducting systems.

The works go hand-in-hand with the recent upgrade to the airport’s hold baggage security screening system, ensuring it complies with international industry standards.

The airport closed on September 10 to facilitate the runway works, which were completed in budget and within the 10-week scheduled window, with the first commercial flight touching down on the tarmac on Monday morning.

Speaking at the official reopening of the runway, An Taoiseach said the project would “future-proof a critically important strategic asset for Cork, the south-west region and for Ireland, for many years to come.”

“The investment by the Government of €10 million in this project will ensure continued, essential, connectivity – connecting people and places, families and friends, economies and businesses; with enormous benefits for the city, the wider region and for the country,” said Deputy Martin.

He was joined for the ceremony by local politicians and Government Ministers, business leaders, clergy and members and Cork Airport management and staff.

They heard Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, describe Cork Airport as a “key strategic national asset”.

“The whole team here have been unwavering in their focus on recovery and building a successful future for Cork Airport. This is clearly seen in the return of airlines and services to the airport along with new services such as the new weekly service to Geneva this winter operated by Swiss International Air Lines. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will double its daily service between Cork and Amsterdam Schiphol,” said Minister Naughton.

“I also welcome Ryanair’s announcement of a €200m investment in Cork Airport and a full recovery of its pre-pandemic passenger capacity with the reopening of its two aircraft base. I hope to announce funding for Cork Airport as part of the Regional Airport Programme in the coming weeks,” she added.

Cork Airport MD Niall McCarthy described the reopening of the runway as a proud day for the airport and a “major milestone on our road to recovery post Covid-19”.

He said the completion of the project in budget and on schedule vindicated the decision to close the airport at what would traditionally be one of its busiest operational periods, pointing out the alternative would have meant night-time closures for 10-months next year.

“Rebuilding major infrastructure is always disruptive but we have confined the disruption to a short 10-week off-peak period and now we can reap the benefits of recovery,” said Mr McCarthy.

“We are very confident about the future of Cork Airport and, with your support as stakeholders, we will grow this airport back to be an engine of growth for the South of Ireland economy once again,” he added.

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