Dublin Airport traffic soars to highest since 2008 at 21.7 million passengers
Dublin Airport had its busiest year since 2008 last year, as 21.7 million passengers passed through the facility. That's 8pc more than it handled in 2013.
An improved economy and new services helped to drive the performance of the capital's airport, with the number of transatlantic passengers hitting 2.1 million. That's 14pc more than in 2013 and the first time that the passenger segment has topped the two million mark in a single year.
Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison said the increase was helped by new, additional or reintroduced services to cities including San Francisco, Toronto and St John's in Newfoundland.
This year is set to be an even busier one for transatlantic traffic. Aer Lingus will boost services to the United States, while Ethiopian Airlines will launch a service between Addis Ababa and Los Angeles that will also stop off at Dublin.
The number of passengers transferring through Dublin, rather than using the airport as their start or end point, hit 750,000 last year - a 37pc increase on 2013.
Passengers travelling via Dublin to the United States can clear US customs and immigration in Ireland, allowing them to arrive in America classed as domestic travellers and avoiding further paperwork and queues when they get there.
Aer Lingus has been growing its transatlantic traffic by luring passengers from regional UK cities. They then use Dublin as a hub for travel to the US.
Dublin Airport Authority chief executive Kevin Toland said last year that he wants to attract two million transfer passengers a year to Dublin in the near term.
Mr Harrison said there will be 158 departures a week from Dublin to North America next summer, making Dublin the sixth largest airport in Europe for transatlantic connectivity.
British Airways' owner IAG is also eyeing growth in transatlantic traffic out of Dublin as part of its plan to buy Aer Lingus.
Mainland Europe accounted for 11.1 million passengers at Dublin Airport last year, up 5pc.
Between Dublin and Britain, there were 7.8 million passengers last year, which was an 8pc rise in 2013.
In 2013 - the latest year for which data is available - 1.66 million passengers travelled between Dublin and Heathrow. There were 975,000 between Gatwick and Dublin that year and 726,000 between Dublin and Stansted.
There were just 72,000 domestic fliers using Dublin last year compared to 845,000 in 2008. Domestic flights were wound down as the road network improved.
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) said yesterday that the total number of flights that used Irish airspace in 2014 was 2.7pc higher compared to 2013.
The IAA said that commercial traffic grew by a total of 6.5pc in 2014 at the country's three main airports - Dublin, Cork and Shannon - with a total of 215,783 aircraft movements. Dublin Airport accounted for 81pc of the volume.