Fewer flights to UK and higher fares as Brexit starts to bite
Brexit will lead to airlines offering fewer routes to the UK and cause increased prices from spring, it has been warned.
CEO of the Dublin Airport Authority Kevin Toland also told a Seanad Special Select Committee on Brexit that the UK will become a bigger competitor of Ireland's both in terms of tourism and the provision of flights to regional airports in the UK.
Currently 42pc of tourist numbers into Ireland come from the UK, with visitors generating €1.1bn in revenue for the Irish economy in 2016.
However, Mr Toland, who will leave the DAA later this year to join global bakery company Aryzta, said that the tourist numbers were already falling, with trips by UK residents to the Republic down 10.7pc between February and April this year.
Furthermore, the UK could become more competitive in attracting tourists away from Ireland as sterling weakens, he said.
In terms of what could be done to mitigate the effect of Brexit, the Seanad was told the Irish airline industry needs to deepen its connectivity, in particular through greater numbers of long-haul flights and the building of a new runway at Dublin Airport.
Mr Toland, who has been CEO of the DAA since 2013, advised that introducing duty-free shopping between Ireland and the UK should begin immediately after the UK leaves the EU. He also said that Ireland should position itself as the "business destination of choice".
Mr Toland also warned of the need to prioritise the airline industry in Ireland, advising that out of the EU's 27 members, Ireland is most dependant on the UK, with traffic to and from the UK representing 36pc of Dublin Airport's business.
In comparison, France only depends on the UK for 6.8pc of its air traffic, while for Germany the percentage of traffic to and from its airports to the UK is even smaller, at 6.1pc.
On the subject of the need for a second runway at Dublin Airport, Mr Toland said that currently during the hours of 5am to midnight, the airport is at 87pc capacity. This means it is a priority that another runway be built to ensure that Ireland remains the preferred location for business and tourism.
A longer runway would also increase the airport's capacity for long-haul flights, as well as facilitate approximately €2.2bn growth in GDP.