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Demand for goods delivered via air travel remained steady during peak Covid-19 disruption

Over 32,500 tonnes of goods passed through Irish airports in the second quarter amid strong pharma exports and PPE imports

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International air freight (Jane Barlow/PA)

International air freight (Jane Barlow/PA)

International air freight (Jane Barlow/PA)

Irish airports handled more than 32,500 tonnes of air freight during the second quarter of 2020, down only 3.8pc from 2019, reflecting strong demand from exporters despite Covid-19 disruption.

By contrast, today's CSO report found, passenger volumes fell by nearly 99pc during the same April-June period versus a year ago.

The resilient cargo volumes reflect Ireland's export-driven economy. Most of the world's top pharmaceutical and medical devices firms produce products and ingredients here for global export, much of it delivered by air rather than slower sea cargo routes.

The data also reflects a surge in imports of personal protective equipment (PPE), chiefly from China, during the second quarter.

Overall, the CSO figures show strong demand for air cargo services, given the sharp fall in the number of flights, particularly in long-haul services to North America, the main destination for many pharma goods. Aer Lingus says it has chiefly kept limited links running with New York, Boston and Chicago to enable cargo shipments on what otherwise are largely empty aircraft.

The CSO said the number of flights to and from Irish airports in the second quarter fell below 6,400 - more than 67,500 fewer than in the same period of 2019. Its report combined data from Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Knock and Kerry airports.

CSO statistician Olive Loughnane said almost 72,000 passengers travelled to Ireland and 90,000 passengers departed from Ireland during the quarter, down 98.6pc and 98.3pc respectively from April-June 2019.

She said the volume of air freight handled by the main airports decreased by 3.8pc to 32,593 tonnes in the second quarter of 2020. Freight in the first half of the year is 5pc higher, totalling 69,726 tonnes, compared with the first half of 2019.

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