More than half a million Northern Ireland residents used Dublin Airport last year, a 15% increase on 2011, according to new figures from the Dublin Airport Authority.
The growth in northern business was far in excess of the average at Dublin Airport in 2012, as total passenger numbers at the airport increased by 2% to 19.1 million last year.
“Dublin Airport’s business from Northern Ireland is booming,” said Paul O’Kane, DAA Public Affairs Director. “Last year 521,000 Northern Ireland passengers travelled through Dublin Airport, which is equivalent to almost 30% of the population of the North.”
The huge growth in business is due to a number of factors, according to O’Kane. “Dublin Airport has an unrivalled route network with direct flights to 170 destinations, we have invested in new facilities in recent years to offer our passengers a much improved travel experience, and the new road network has made travelling from Northern Ireland to Dublin faster and more predictable.”
Holiday and leisure trips accounted for just over 70% of travel by Northern Ireland residents through Dublin Airport last year, while almost 20% travelled for business reasons. Three quarters of Northern Ireland passengers took a direct flight from Dublin to their final destination, while 25% transferred to a connecting flight to complete their journey.
Dublin Airport is also a key source of tourist visitors to Northern Ireland as 62% of all air passengers travelling to the island of Ireland come through Dublin. “Tourists want direct flights and Dublin Airport is a vital provider of incoming leisure and business travel for Northern Ireland,” O’Kane added.
The number of Northern Ireland-based passengers using Dublin Airport has almost doubled since 2010 and the airport is confident of further growth. “We recently added new long-haul destinations, Dubai and Washington DC, and new European destinations such as Düsseldorf, Palermo, and Bologna. The growth in transatlantic capacity means that this summer we will have 224 weekly flights to and from the USA and Canada, which is more than London Gatwick or Manchester Airports.”
Dublin Airport has direct flights to New York (JFK and Newark), Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Charlotte NC, and Orlando and offers US-bound passengers a useful facility that is not available at any UK or European airport. “Passengers to America can avail of US pre-clearance at Dublin, allowing them to complete all immigration and customs prior to departure. This also makes transferring in the USA much more convenient as it allows your bags to be checked the whole way through to your final destination,” O’Kane added.
As the home base for Aer Lingus and Ryanair, Dublin Airport has an extensive short-haul network with direct flights to a host of European cities.
London Heathrow was the most popular destination for Northern Ireland passengers using Dublin Airport last year, while the top 10 destinations comprised four long-haul and six short-haul routes. Eight of the top 10 destinations for Northern Ireland passengers using Dublin Airport were not served by the airports in Northern Ireland. “We offer passengers a huge range of direct routes and on busier destinations we tend to have competing airlines, which provide passengers with greater choice in terms of flight times, value and onward connections,” according to O’Kane.
With direct flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, passengers from Northern Ireland are also using Dublin Airport to travel to the Middle East and a host of onward connecting destinations in Africa, India, South East Asia and Australia. “Using Dublin to connect to one of the Middle Eastern hubs means the fast-growing business and leisure markets of Asia and Australia/New Zealand are just a one-stop trip.”
Last year, Dublin Airport created a specific advertising campaign for Northern Ireland for the first time and this targeted promotional activity will be expanded this year, according to O’Kane. “We want to make consumers in Northern Ireland aware of the benefits of using Dublin Airport for both business and leisure travel and to ensure that visitors to Northern Ireland are aware of the convenience of flying into Dublin. It has never been easier to get to Dublin Airport; we have a fantastic range of destinations and airlines, excellent value car parking, and superb facilities.”