RYANAIR has promised to bring one million extra passengers to Ireland's airports next year as it expands services.
The airline will split the growth between five airports – Dublin, Cork, Knock, Kerry and Shannon – and says it will mean 500,000 extra tourists coming to the country every year.
It is likely that services between Britain and Ireland will benefit from a significant portion of the growth, with routes being given extra frequencies and greater capacity.
But other routes from cities in mainland Europe will also be targeted.
Chief operating officer Michael Cawley said Ryanair would base an additional four aircraft in Ireland from next April to meet the growth plans.
That will result in up to 200 extra Ryanair jobs being based here rather than going to other countries in Europe, he said.
He added that under a standard industry measure, the additional one million passengers were likely to result in 1,000 jobs being created in airports and linked service sectors. There would be more jobs created in the tourism sector, Mr Cawley predicted.
He said that each tourist flying with Ryanair to Ireland spends an average of €500 while here.
Ryanair had pledged to bring more air traffic to Ireland if the €3 tax that is levied on all air passengers leaving the country was abolished.
The tax will be axed from next April under one of the Budget measures unveiled by Finance Minister Michael Noonan this week. The minister said he expected airlines to respond by introducing additional services.
Mr Cawley said he would speak to the five airports by next Monday to flesh out plans. He said he hoped to be in a position to reveal details of the growth within a fortnight.
The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) welcomed Ryanair's announcement: "We are fully supportive of any airline that plans to grow in the Irish market," said a DAA spokesman.
He added that passenger traffic at Dublin airport had grown by one million in the past year.
Mr Cawley said Shannon airport, now a separate entity from the DAA, was also expected to benefit from the initiative.
Ryanair had been involved in separate talks with the DAA earlier this year, but they stalled.