New runway on agenda as Dublin Airport becomes runaway success
Four years ago, no one could have imagined that by 2015 talk of when Dublin Airport would need to build a second runway would be back on the agenda.
But the capital's airport enjoyed a resurgence in 2015.
By early December - before the Christmas rush had even begun - passenger numbers for 2015 had already surpassed the previous record of 23.4 million achieved during 2008, with 23.5 million having passed through the airport. That was a 16pc increase in the year to date. Over Christmas, Dublin Airport expected numbers to be 18pc higher than in Christmas 2014.
There were five additional long-haul services launched at Dublin Airport last year, including routes to Washington DC by Aer Lingus, Los Angeles and Addis Ababa by Ethiopian Airlines, as well as short-haul services to destinations including Reykjavik.
New and existing operators at Dublin also added routes to other European cities.
The airport - which celebrated its 75th birthday in 2015 - was confirmed by industry group Airports Council International as one of the fastest-growing airports in Europe.
During 2015, more than one million passengers were also cleared by US customs and border protection (CBP) at Dublin Airport - the first time the figure ever surpassed the million mark in one year.
Next year, the airport will be even busier. Aer Lingus - now part of IAG - will launch routes to Los Angeles, Newark and Hartford, Connecticut, while Air Canada Rouge has announced a seasonal direct service between Dublin and Vancouver. Charter flights will operate to the Caribbean for the first time.
In September, the DAA confirmed that it's re-assessing plans for a second runway at Dublin, which it already has planning permission for.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed that the semi-State company was re-evaluating that.
"We believe that due to predicted demand that's now very likely to occur at Dublin Airport, there will be a need for a second parallel runway," he said.
However, it has also emerged that planning restrictions attached to the new runway could impact its usefulness.
The Minister also announced in September that a long-awaited rail link from Dublin Airport to the city centre is planned. The 14-stop Metro North line will cost about €2bn and is expected to be operational by 2026.
At Shannon Airport, which was spun off as an independent entity from the DAA in 2013, passenger numbers for 2015 are also expected to rise this year. In 2014, 1.6 millon passengers used the airport. Chief executive of Shannon Group Neil Pakey will also leave his role next June.
Cork Airport has been struggling for some time, with passenger numbers having slumped over the past few years. But there was optimism this year as CityJet launched services from the airport and the first ever transatlantic services, to Boston and New York, due to commence in 2016 and 2017 respectively were announced. They'll be operated by Norwegian Air.