I propose to take Questions Nos. 278 to 280, inclusive, together.
I would like to thank the Deputy for his questions in relation to meetings with daa and Shannon Airport Authority and passenger numbers at Shannon and Cork Airports.
I can confirm to the Deputy that during the course of the year I have met with the management of Shannon Group, a commerical State company which, as you will be aware, has statutory responsibility for Shannon Airport. I have also met with the Shannon Group Chairman, Ms. Rose Hynes and also in recent months with the Chairman of the daa. These meetings are in addition to the many meetings that happen on a regular basis between my officials and management at daa and Shannon Group.
The Deputy will also be aware that daa and Shannon Group have statutory responsibility for the operation, management and development of our three State Airports and as such passenger numbers at Shannon and Cork Airports are operational matters for Shannon Group and daa respectively.
In relation to passenger numbers at Cork Airport, I am aware that the position is positive with some 2.4 million passengers using the Airport in 2018. This represented a 4% increase in passengers on 2017, making it the third consecutive year of growth at the Airport. I understand the outlook for this year is also very positive with passenger numbers continuing to grow. This growth is attributable to a number of factors including, the expansion of capacity on existing routes and the addition of new routes to the airport’s existing route network with over 50 routes now on offer along with multiple long-haul options through key international hubs across Europe. Unfortunately, with the unexpected grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, transatlantic services are currently not available from Cork Airport.
The position in relation to Shannon Airport is that between 2013 and 2018 it grew passenger numbers by some 34%. As part of that growth, 13 new services were successfully secured with Norwegian Air International and Air Canada, both of which used Boeing 737 MAX jet aircraft. Unfortunately, the grounding earlier this year of the Boeing 737 MAX jet aircraft has disproportionally affected Shannon Airport. Separately, and without warning, Kuwait Airlines announced in January last the immediate cessation of its daily trans-atlantic service via Shannon Airport.
I understand that these developments, which are totally outside the control of Shannon Group, will result in a fall in passenger numbers for Shannon Airport for the first time in six years. However, I am aware that Airport management are very focussed on addressing these challenges and are in constant discussion with numerous airlines with a view to providing additional flights from Shannon Airport. The decision to operate a specific air route is however an operational matter for airlines themselves, in consultation with airport authorities.
Finally, in 2019, additional funding was made available to Tourism Ireland for its Regional Cooperative Marketing Fund, bringing the total allocation to €1.25 million. This fund seeks to encourage new access and maximise the potential of existing services to the Regions. It is supported by contributions from regional tourism stakeholders (airports and ports) and matched by air and sea carriers. This resulted in total cooperative marketing expenditure overseas of €2.5m in 2017 and €2.65m in 2018. As recently announced following Budget 2020, funding for this Scheme is being increased further to €2.5m in 2020. I would encourage all regional airports, including Shannon Airport and Cork Airport to continue to avail of this funding to optimise air services and increase connectivity to the regions for passengers.