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Knock takes off with 11pc jump in passengers

IRELAND West Airport in Knock has just had its busiest year, with passenger numbers jumping 11pc.

With Ryanair opening up new routes this year to Spain, Germany, France and Italy, management are confident of another bumper year.

Last year saw an increase of 65,000 passengers on the previous year and while there was a noted 7pc increase in passengers to the United Kingdom, the airport also recorded a 36pc jump in passengers heading to European sun resorts.

Joe Gilmore, MD of Ireland West Airport Knock, said the figures were very encouraging.

"Whilst it was our busiest year ever, without doubt, 2012 will be a challenge for everyone in the region," said Mr Gilmore.

The airport recently announced five new mainland European services to Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Milan and Paris, which are expected to generate an additional tourism spend of over €23m for the region.

Meanwhile, strong advance bookings on Emirates' new Dublin-Dubai route have prompted the airline's president, Tim Clark, to predict that the service will break even within six months.

That would be far quicker than is typical on new routes. He said the airline usually needed a load factor -- the percentage of available seats sold -- of about 62pc to break even.

At the moment, the advance bookings for the Dublin-Dubai service are at 90pc.

Dublin is the airline's 118th destination worldwide, opening up a new route to key markets in Australia, India, Thailand, China and the Philippines.

Emirates is the first airline to offer a three-class service out of Ireland. A return flight departing Dublin on February 13 and returning the following Thursday costs €510 on economy, €3,275 for business and €5,867 in first class.

Irish Independent