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Dublin Airport Sets New Passenger Record

By Dave Simpson

A record-breaking 29.6 million passengers travelled through Dublin Airport last year.

A significant increase in long-haul traffic, and a robust performance from continental European routes, were the main elements of a 6% increase in passenger numbers in 2017, which was the seventh consecutive year of growth at Dublin Airport.

About 27.8 million passengers started or ended their journey at Dublin last year, while a further 1.8 million passengers used Dublin Airport as a hub. Dublin Airport has flights to 191 destinations in 42 countries operated by 47 airlines and is now the 11th largest airport within the European Union.

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Short-haul traffic increased by 4% to 25.3 million, while long-haul passenger numbers increased by 19% to 4.3 million. Dublin Airport beat its previous passenger record, which was set in 2016, by almost 1.7 million.

Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison commented, “The continued growth at Dublin Airport is fantastic news for the Irish economy. Increased air connectivity boosts tourism, trade and foreign direct investment. Last year’s record performance for visitor numbers across the island of Ireland was underpinned by the growth in passenger numbers at Dublin.”

Since 2011, annual passenger numbers at Dublin Airport have increased by 58% from 18.7 million to 29.6 million. The vast bulk of the growth has occurred in the past four years with passenger traffic increasing by 47% between 2014 and 2017.

The growth in traffic in 2017 came from a combination of 14 new services introduced during the year, and extra capacity on 39 existing routes. “We saw growth from all of our major airline customers during the year,” Harrison said. “We are focused on attracting new airlines to Dublin and also on helping our existing airlines to grow their business here.”

The European market delivered the largest growth in volume terms during 2017. Passenger traffic to and from continental Europe, which is Dublin Airport’s largest market segment, increased by 7% to a record 15.2 million in 2017. About 940,000 additional people took flights between Dublin and continental European destinations last year.

Aer Lingus, Lufthansa, KLM, Norwegian and Ryanair all increased capacity on existing European routes, and there were also new services to destinations such as Munich, Naples, Split, Stuttgart and Stockholm.

Traffic between Dublin and British airports increased by 1% to just under 10 million last year, which was also a new record. The impact of weaker sterling following the Brexit vote in the UK contributed to a decline in British originating traffic last year, but this was offset by an increase in both Irish outbound business and transfer traffic to the UK.

Transatlantic traffic was the fastest-growing segment of the market for the second year in a row. Transatlantic passenger numbers increased by 20% last year to almost 3.5 million – the first time that more than 3 million passengers have taken transatlantic flights to and from Dublin Airport in a single year.

Last year Dublin Airport welcomed new transatlantic services from Aer Lingus (Miami), Delta (Boston), and Norwegian (Stewart New York and Boston Providence). There was also increased capacity on flights to and from Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto and Washington DC.

Harrison asserted, “We’re expecting further transatlantic growth this year with new Aer Lingus routes to Philadelphia and Seattle, a new Air Canada service to Montreal, and expansions to some existing North American routes.”

Passenger traffic to other international destinations, including the Middle East and Africa, increased by 14% to almost 850,000 last year. Qatar Airways launched a new Dublin-Doha service last June, while Etihad returned to double-daily on its Abu Dhabi service, and Ethiopian expanded its Dublin-Addis Ababa route.

This year will see Dublin Airport welcome its first direct service to Asia Pacific as Cathay Pacific launches its new Dublin-Hong Kong service in June.

The number of passengers transferring at Dublin Airport increased by 35% last year to a record 1.6 million, as the airport continued to strengthen its position as a significant gateway for air travel between Europe and North America.

A further 200,000 passengers transited through Dublin – i.e. passed through Dublin but didn’t change flights – on services between the US and Africa. This means that 1.8 million passengers who used Dublin Airport last year didn’t leave the airside area. Dublin Airport is one of the most important economic assets in the country. It supports or facilitates 117,300 jobs and contributes €8.3 billion annually to the national economy.

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Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
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