Re: Re: Cork Transport

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Saucy Jack

11 April 2008

Cork Airport votes to accept €113m debt

By Eoin English
THE board of Cork Airport was split last night after agreeing by just one vote to accept a €113 million debt to secure independence from Dublin Airport.

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey had to guarantee government support, including financial support, if the airport cannot meet its repayments in the years ahead.

The assurance was given during a marathon meeting of the Cork Airport Authority (CAA) during which contacts were also made with the government-appointed mediator Peter Cassells.

He was asked by Mr Dempsey in February to help break the bitter four-year impasse between the CAA and Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) over funding and separation.

Mr Cassells recommended a package which included the CAA assuming responsibility for a €113m DAA loan. He said the DAA should transfer ownership to the CAA of land around Cork airport and its stake in the Brooklyn business park, which together have a combined value of €50m to €70m.

Mr Cassells also suggested the DAA make a payment of up to €10m to the CAA to help it meet pension and “other funding requirements”. He said when all the factors are considered, Cork would separate from Dublin with a funding solution of €20m to €40m.

The CAA finally voted by the slimmest of margins last night to accept the package.

A statement issued by the CAA after the vote said it was extremely disappointed that the Government’s 2004 promise of a debt-free independent airport has not been delivered. It described the Cassells’ report as unfair

“The board of CAA has strong reservations about the level of debt that Cork Airport is being levied with and its potential impact on its sustainability,” it said.

“In this regard, the board has sought and received assurances from the Minister for Transport that an independent Cork Airport can rely on support, financial or otherwise, to ensure the airport’s continued viability in the event of it being unable to meet its fixed funding obligations as a consequence of the occurrence of certain adverse business risks or extraordinary events.”

The CAA said it is prepared to work with the proposals to develop an independent airport. It also said assurances given to airport staff regarding their pensions and terms and conditions of employment need to be implemented in full.

Last night, Cork North Central TD Fine Gael’s Bernard Allen said local ministers and government TDs had “shown no political backbone” on this issue and “they needed to put the interests of the region over self interest”.

He said the debt could mean huge increases in airport charges which low cost airlines won’t tolerate.

Time for Cork to stand alone and compete ?

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