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Irish Air Traffic Grows as IAA Warns on Risks from Brexit

13 Feb 2017

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) confirmed today that air traffic grew by 7.5% (or 81,373 movements) in January 2017 compared to the same month last year, continuing the strong performance of 2016. 

Within that figure, there was an increase of 5.3% in Ireland’s overflight traffic movements (flights, which do not land in Ireland) and North Atlantic Communications flights (Europe /US Flights) recorded an increase of 8.5% in January. There were 24,682 overflight traffic movements and 35,661 North Atlantic Communications flights during the month. 

Eamonn Brennan, Chief Executive of the Irish Aviation Authority said: “We are delighted to see air traffic in 2017 getting off to a strong start, building on the very encouraging gains of last year. Up to 90% of transatlantic air traffic passes through Irish-controlled airspace, so I am particularly pleased with the strong growth in our en route traffic. On the domestic front, terminal air traffic at Dublin and Shannon continues to increase strongly with growth of 4.3% and 5.6% recorded respectively in January.” 

However, Mr. Brennan added that this performance could be hampered in the years ahead as a result of Brexit,  “Air connectivity between Ireland and the UK is hugely important to the Irish economy both for tourism and trade. The UK market accounts for over 60 percent of the capacity from Shannon, Kerry and Knock and for over 40 percent of all the passengers from Dublin. Indeed, if we look at the number of business trips we have via air travel across the whole of the EU, 44 percent are with the UK. It really is a crucial enabler for the Irish economy.  

Air connectivity all over the world is based on Air Service Agreements and once the UK leaves the EU a new Air Service Agreement will have to be put in place between the EU27 and the UK.  If that agreement constraints the ability to fly easily between Ireland and the UK or for Irish airlines to operate freely around the EU, then that will be bad for Irish economy in general. It looks like we are heading for a hard Brexit so it's really vital that aviation is at the forefront of the negotiations from an Irish perspective. That's very important as the rest of the EU might not share the same view as us.  

Brexit does offer some opportunities to Ireland, such as increasing the attractiveness to transit through Ireland to North America rather than the UK and our airports will be seeking to capitalise on that but in broader terms a hard Brexit will be difficult for the Irish civil aviation industry." 

In terms of domestic air traffic, the combined figure for commercial flights at Shannon, Dublin and Cork airports was up by 3.8% in January 2017. Individually, the January 2017 figures for the three State airports, when compared to the same month in the previous year are:  

  • Dublin up +4.3% with an average of 489 commercial daily movements. 

  • Cork down -4.2%, with an average of 42 commercial daily movements. 

  • Shannon up +5.6% with an average of 42 commercial daily movements.


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