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Ireland’s air traffic decline among worst in Europe

12 Jun 2020
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) reported that overall 18,290 flights were handled by its air traffic controllers during May 2020. This represents a decrease of 83% compared to the same month in 2019. For comparison, April 2020 saw an 85% decrease in traffic on 2019 levels.  

Ireland is amongst the group of worst affected countries across the European aviation network and has seen a larger decline than the average across Europe.

State airport traffic during May 2020:
• Dublin airport recorded 2,319 flights, an 89.4% decrease on May 2019
• Cork airport traffic saw 260 movements, down 95.3%
• Shannon airport reported 325 flights, an 86.9% decrease in movements

There was an 80% decrease in Ireland’s overflight traffic movements (flights that do not land in Ireland) in May 2020.  There were 6,771 flights compared to 33,309 in May 2019. IAA’s analysis of North Atlantic Communications flights (Europe /US) saw a decrease of 81% in May 2020 to 8,615 compared to 45,958 in May 2019. 

When compared with other European countries, data to be published by EUROCONTROL next week will show that is Ireland below the European average for flights handled and consistent with some of the worst performers in the European network. Countries such as Belgium, Norway and Germany performed significantly better than Ireland.  

IAA Chief Executive, Mr. Peter Kearney said that the figures indicate that aviation in Ireland has been particularly badly hit by the COVID-19 lockdown. “As an exporting nation, the Irish economy depends on aviation for growth and development, more so than many other European countries.  It is important that we start to re-open aviation as soon as possible.  This will protect jobs, save aviation businesses and help kick-start our economy.”   

Mr Kearney also highlighted the uncertainty that exists for the IAA at this time. “As a strong semi-state company, we delivered profits of over €30 million last year. The European Commission is now considering changing European Regulations for air traffic management, which is likely to have a significant impact on the business for 2020 and beyond.  It is not in the interests of the Irish State, our airline customers or passengers that this happens, as ultimately quality of service and jobs could be impacted.”

The figures for May also indicated that transatlantic air traffic managed by the IAA has been particularly hard hit.  It is currently down 81% on the same period in 2019 due to COVID 19. As a result, Ireland’s volume of air traffic handled is one of Europe's worst affected. 

Mr Kearney added that the coordinated approach across Europe is vital to ensuring that aviation can re-open and passengers can be confident that their flight will go ahead, and the risks associated with COVID-19 are minimised.  

“There has been a small increase in traffic over the last month compared to April and we hope that this is the start of the aviation comeback, and the beginnings of sustainable growth over the coming months.”

The IAA and aviation stakeholders are working with the Government to develop and implement best practice requirements for re-opening the aviation sector to ensure passenger and staff safety as the industry takes off again. 

All May 2020 statistics and comparative for 2019 can be found on our monthly review webpage www.iaa.ie/monthlyreview 
 

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