Passenger traffic at Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airports increased by just under 1% last year, according to the Dublin Airport Authority – and by 2% when domestic traffic is excluded. However, international traffic was flat when adjusted for the exceptional events of 2010 such as volcanic ash and poor weather.
More than 22.7 million passengers travelled through the airports during 2011, as traffic returned to overall growth following three years of declines due to the economic downturn.
Dublin Airport was the best performer, as passenger traffic increased by 2% to 18.8 million passengers. Passenger numbers at Cork declined by 3% to 2.4 million, while passenger numbers at Shannon declined by 7% to 1.6 million during the year.
“More than 100,000 extra passengers travelled through DAA airports last year, as overall traffic stabilised after recent declines,” said Vincent Harrison, DAA Director of Strategy. “While many European economies, including Ireland, remain weak and economic performance is the main driver of air travel, there are some positive signals for the year ahead.
“Dublin Airport will see new routes opening to Dubai, Washington, Verona, Stockholm, and Düsseldorf this year, while Cork Airport is adding new routes to Pisa, Palma, Brussels and Girona. A number of airlines have also announced extra capacity on a significant number of existing routes across the three airports.”
The ongoing decline in air travel within the State continued to have an impact on passenger numbers at DAA airports, as domestic traffic contracted further last year. The fall in domestic air travel is attributed to the improved Irish road network, which created additional competition for other modes of transport, economic conditions, and the ending of a number of Public Service Obligation routes.
Domestic passenger traffic has fallen from a peak of 1.5 million in 2005 to less than 200,000 last year, and it is unlikely that this segment of the market will ever return to those peak levels. However last year’s decline in internal domestic travel was more than offset by a growth in international traffic, which includes Irish-based people travelling abroad and foreign residents coming to Ireland.
Excluding domestic traffic, overall passenger numbers on international routes were up 2% last year. Passenger numbers on international flights at Dublin increased by 3% during the year. Cork was most affected by the decline in domestic traffic, as the withdrawal of the Cork-Dublin service had an impact on domestic passenger numbers. Excluding domestic traffic, passenger numbers at Cork increased by 3% last year. Passenger numbers at Shannon declined by 6% when domestic travel was excluded.
The strongest performance during 2011 came from foreign originating traffic, which grew in all major markets including the core markets of Britain, continental Europe, and North America. Recent Fáilte Ireland data shows that overseas visitor numbers to Ireland increased by almost 6% last year.
“Incoming visitors were the strongest performer last year,” added Vincent Harrison. “Our detailed passenger survey data shows that the weakest segment of the international market was travel by Irish-resident foreign nationals, which declined significantly last year.”