High-flying Dublin Airport leads way as passengers up by 6pc
Dublin Airport's dominance of Irish aviation became even more concentrated in 2017, as the capital took a bigger share of a growing market.
Overall, 34.4 million passengers passed through the main Irish airports last year, a 5.2pc increase in passenger numbers year-on-year.
An overwhelming majority, 29.4 million passengers, passed through Dublin Airport - a 6pc increase on the previous year, according to information from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
As is to be expected from the passenger numbers, the majority of flights handled by Irish airports were also handled by Dublin Airport, with the airport accounting for 83.4pc of the 254,000 plus flights that were handled by Ireland's main airports last year.
And the traffic numbers at the capital's airport, which according to a spokesperson for Dublin Airport, facilitates 117,300 jobs and contributes €8.3bn annually to the national economy, are set to continue with the launch of 14 new routes this summer.
Among the new airlines joining Dublin Airport's list of airline customers are Cathay Pacific, Croatia Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Icelandair.
Already in 2018 more than six million passengers have travelled through Dublin Airport in the first three months of this year, representing a 4pc increase, or an extra 248,500 passengers, compared to the same period last year, the airport said.
Increases in passenger numbers last year were also reported in a number of other Irish airports, including Cork, Donegal, and Kerry.
However, with the announcement from Norwegian earlier this month that it is scaling back its transatlantic routes from Cork, whether Cork Airport can continue to build on the 3.4pc increase in passenger numbers that it achieved last year remains to be seen.
While Norwegian may be scaling back in Cork, the airline, which has been subject to speculation regarding a possible takeover from Aer Lingus owner IAG, is expanding its operations from Dublin Airport.
Dublin is now set to have 21 weekly services by Norwegian, while Cork will see its only US route, Providence/Boston, suspended from October to March.
The passenger number statistics from the CSO do not offer good news to every Irish airport, with a number of them recording a decline in numbers last year, when compared to 2016.
Among those that recorded a drop in passengers were Shannon Airport, where numbers were down 4.5pc, and Connemara, and Inishmore airports.
Looking at where people are travelling to, the UK's Heathrow and Gatwick were the most popular routes for passengers from Dublin in 2017, according to the CSO.
For Cork, Heathrow and Stansted were the most popular routes, while the top route for Shannon was Heathrow - all of which emphasises Ireland's close connection to our nearest neighbour as Brexit looms.
The second most popular country for passengers travelling on international flights was Spain, while outside of Europe, the US was the most popular country for passengers at Irish airports in 2017.
Along with increasing passenger numbers, the main airports in Ireland also handled increasing amounts of freight last year.
They handled a total of 163,956 tonnes of freight, the vast majority (94.1pc) of which was international freight.
This represents an increase of 11.7pc when compared with 2016, according to the CSO numbers.
Again, the bulk of the freight, both arriving and departing Ireland, was handled by Dublin Airport.