Dublin Airport returns to marginal passenger growth in 2011

IRELAND. Passenger traffic at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports combined returned to marginal growth in 2011, after three years of declines due to the economic downturn.

More than 22.7 million passengers travelled through the three airports during 2011, an increase of just under +1%, according to the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

Dublin Airport was the best performer during 2011 (and the only one to show an increase), as passenger traffic grew by +2% to 18.8 million. Passenger numbers at Cork Airport declined by -3% to 2.4 million while volumes 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 DAA Director of Strategy Vincent Harrison. “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,” he added.

“Dublin Airport will see new routes opening to Dubai, Washington, Verona, Stockholm and Duesseldorf 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.”

A continuing sharp fall in domestic air travel was attributed to the improved Irish road network, which created additional competition for other modes of transport. Other factors in the decline were tough 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 previous high levels, said DAA.

Cork Airport was most affected by the decline in domestic traffic, as the withdrawal of the Cork-Dublin service had a big impact on domestic passenger numbers. Excluding domestic traffic, passenger numbers at Cork increased by +3% last year. Passenger numbers at Shannon Airport declined by -6% when domestic travel was excluded.

Overall, passenger numbers on international routes were up by +2% last year, and by +3% in Dublin, though the figure was flat when adjusted for the exceptional events of 2010 such as volcanic ash and poor weather.

The strongest performance during 2011 came from inbound traffic among foreign nationalities, said DAA, with strong visitor numbers from the UK, Europe and the US. Recent Failte Ireland (Tourism Board) data shows that overseas visitor numbers to Ireland increased by almost +6% last year.

Shannon Airport, which posted a -7% decline in passengers, opened a refurbished travel retail store in December

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