DUBLIN AIRPORT HAD a record year in 2017 thanks to a boost in long-haul traffic.
According to figures released by the airport, some 29.6 million passengers travelled through the hub last year, about 1.7 million more than in 2016 before.
Management attributed this growth to a “significant increase” in long-haul traffic and a “robust performance” from European routes, which are becoming increasingly important as tourism chiefs shift their focus away from the diminishing British market.
The figures released show that transatlantic traffic remained the fastest-growing market with Dublin handling some 3.5 million North America passengers last year, an increase of 20%.
Other international categories – including the Middle East and Africa – also delivered double-digit growth. Around 850,000 passengers travelled to and from destinations outside the UK, US and continental Europe last year, an increase of 14%.
Europe was Dublin’s biggest market in terms of passenger volume, with 15.2 million passengers traveling to and from the continent in 2017, up 7% on the tally for 2016.
Meanwhile, traffic between Dublin and the UK, Ireland’s biggest tourism market by volume, increased by 1% to just under 10 million passengers last year.
Dublin Airport said the impact of a weaker sterling-euro exchange rate contributed to a decline in traffic originating from Britain, but this was “more than offset” by a bump in Irish outbound business and transfer traffic to the UK.
In total, Dublin Airport – which handles almost 85% of all Irish air traffic – has flights to 191 destinations in 42 countries operated by 47 airlines.
Its first direct service to the Asia-Pacific region will take off this year when carrier Cathay Pacific launches its new Dublin to Hong Kong service in June.
Commenting on the 2017 traffic results, Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison said the hub is “focused on attracting new airlines to Dublin” after recording growth “from all our major airline customers during the year”.
Of the near-30 million passengers that used Dublin Airport last year, 27.8 million either started or ended their journey in the capital, while the remaining 1.8 million used it as a hub and didn’t leave the airside area.
The airport is pitching itself as a gateway to Europe and North America, although it has come under fire in recent months from Aer Lingus and its parent IAG over claims of “infrastructural deficits”.