Dublin Airport flying high: passenger numbers soar to record thanks to new routes and hub boom
THE BIG PICTURE
Dublin Airport has confirmed record passenger numbers for 2018, as 31.5 million flyers passed through the gateway. That's 6pc more than in 2017.
The airport has been on track to easily breach the 30-million passenger milestone after it saw a number of new services launch during 2018, including routes to destinations such as Seattle, Hong Kong, Beijing and Moscow. A total of 16 new routes were launched, while capacity was increased on 22 services.
The surge in passenger numbers reflects the improved economy, as well as Dublin Airport's increasing role as a hub for transatlantic travel.
The DAA, the semi-State authority which operates airports at Dublin and Cork, said that 2.1 million passengers used Dublin as a hub, meaning that neither their start nor end point of travel was the capital.
Between Europe and North America, the number of transfer passengers using Dublin jumped 18pc to 1.8 million last year.
The DAA opened a €16m dedicated transfer facility at the airport during the year. An additional 240,000 passengers transited through Dublin in 2018, landing at the airport but not changing planes.
The DAA said short-haul traffic at the airport rose 5pc to 26.5 million last year, while long-haul passenger numbers increased 15pc to 5 million. Of those long-haul passengers, four million travelled between Dublin and North America.
A number of new long-haul routes will be launched this year. American Airlines will fly from Dublin to Dallas, while Aer Lingus will fly from the capital to Montreal and Minneapolis-St Paul. Westjet will operate a service between Calgary and Dublin.
UK traffic rose just 1pc last year, to almost 10.1 million passengers.
The DAA said that UK traffic growth has been sluggish for the past two years because of sterling weakness caused by a looming Brexit.
"Dublin Airport is a key economic engine for Ireland. Last year's traffic growth helped deliver a record year for Irish tourism, bringing additional jobs and tourism spending throughout the island," said Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison.
A significant amount of infrastructure development is under way at Dublin Airport, alongside the development of a commercial office campus.
A new runway is being constructed, while a new control tower being built by the Irish Aviation Authority is almost complete. The DAA plans to spend about €900m by 2023 on additional infrastructure, not including the €320m it will spend on constructing the new runway and associated works such as taxiways.
A report prepared for the government and published last autumn claimed Dublin Airport could need a new terminal by 2030. But DAA CEO Dalton Philips has previously insisted that a third terminal would not be required until about 2040.