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The Latest News From the IAA

Harmonised approach with Europe critical for air traffic recovery

07 May 2021
  • Air traffic decline of 700,000+ flights over the past 12 months equal to entire air traffic handled in 1998

  • April 2021 figures remain significantly lower than pre-pandemic

  • Aviation industry roadmap for re-opening should be supported, providing for safe travel in summer 2021 

Figures published by the Irish Aviation Authority Air Navigation Services Provider (IAA ANSP) have confirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a dramatic slump in air traffic levels. Overall air traffic managed by the IAA ANSP was down 63% over the past 12 months, since April 2020 when the effects of the public health crisis in Europe and the USA effectively shut down commercial, passenger aviation. This is the worst year on year decline in air traffic since records began.  

With the epidemiological situation improving, the IAA Chief Executive, Mr. Peter Kearney, stated that the conditions for a safe re-start for aviation need to be put in place. He stated that the aviation sector could not continue to sustain the level of losses currently experienced across the sector and a clear roadmap for the recommencement is needed.

”While mindful of the need for continued adherence to public health advice as inoculation rates increase with the continued roll-out of vaccines in Ireland and across Europe, it is important that we prepare for a harmonised re-start of aviation and travel in line with our European counterparts. The EU has moved ahead to plan the removal of the ban on non-essential travel into the bloc. It is in Ireland’s interests to sign up to this EU-wide travel approach and prepare for the safe return of international travel. The aviation industry in Ireland has put together a comprehensive proposal for a safe and sustainable re-start; while this is still being reviewed by Government, we believe that it provides a balanced framework for the re-start of travel as soon as possible in the summer.”

Mr. Kearney continued, “Aviation is an economic enabler and Ireland has become a major global player in this sector, pre-pandemic. To enable Ireland’s economic recovery, we must have a fully functioning and stable aviation industry. We cannot afford to be left behind as countries re-open across Europe, including the UK.”

“The aviation industry is ready to participate in a coordinated approach based on the EU traffic light system and digital green pass to ensure that air travel can re-open and passengers can be confident that their flight will go ahead, and risks associated with COVID-19 are minimised,” he said.  

The IAA statistics report show that 396,568 flights were handled during the past 12 months (May 2020 – April 2021), a drop of (63%) on the same period in 2019-20.  For the month of April 2021, there were 36,942 flights compared to 14,923 in 2020 and 96,131 in April 2019. The full impact of COVID -19 lockdown on air traffic in Ireland was reflected in the 85% drop in air traffic volumes in April last year (the first full month of the pandemic).  This collapse in air traffic has persisted over the past 12 months. 
State airport commercial traffic during April 2021 compared to April 2019:
• Dublin airport recorded 2,746 flights, an 86% decrease;
• Cork airport traffic saw 128 movements, down 93%; 
• Shannon airport reported 368 flights, a 75% decrease in movements.

April 2021 saw a decrease of 57% in Ireland’s overflight traffic movements (flights that do not land in Ireland) to 12,606 from 29,077 in April 2019. IAA’s analysis of North Atlantic Communications flights (Europe /US) saw a decrease of 59% in April 2021 to 16,663 compared to 40,784 in April 2019. 
A breakdown of the April 2021 air traffic figures (and a month by month comparative for 2020 and 2019) can be viewed at