Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South Central, Micheál Martin, has expressed his concern that the number of flights between Cork and Brussels will be halved in March.

Deputy Martin was speaking after Aer Lingus confirmed that from the end of March there will only be two weekly flights between Cork and Brussels.

“This is a very concerning development and will be a huge blow for the South West region,” said Deputy Martin.

“Brussels is the administrative heart of the Europe Union and is a vital link between business in the South West and Europe. These changes will affect the way business is conducted between Cork and Brussels and unfortunately will have a negative impact on the economy here.

“Tourism is another sector that is set to suffer with this announcement. Although the flights leaving Cork on Friday and returning on Monday do help with weekend breaks, it is not ideal and will force people to take an extra holiday day if they are coming to Cork.

“There is an onus now on Tourism Ireland to promote Cork and the South West and attract more airlines to the region. With the winding up of the Cork-Swansea ferry, the South West has suffered with thousands of potential tourists lost. There is a great product on offer in the region, West Cork and Kerry offer beautiful scenery and countryside while Cork City as a huge urban centre is ideal for shopping, leisure and business.

“I hope this is a temporary move and the full roster of flights will be restored sooner rather than later.”