Passenger growth stalls at airports
Traffic down 1.2pc in Dublin, reflecting trend across Europe
PASSENGER growth at Europe's airports stalled in April, according to new data from Airports Council International (ACI).
In Ireland, overall passenger traffic grew just 0.5pc in the month, while Spain's tumbled 6.1pc and Greece's by 8.6pc. At Dublin, passenger traffic was down 1.2pc in the first four months of the year, to 5.3 million.
The figures from ACI come as the Dublin Airport Authority announced yesterday that it is launching its first direct advertising campaign in Northern Ireland, aimed at persuading travellers there to fly from Dublin rather than from Belfast.
The DAA said the ad campaign, which runs until the end of June, is part of a longer-term marketing campaign to lure Northern Ireland fliers to Dublin Airport.
There's a significant disparity in the tourist tax levy imposed in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
The tax is something that former Aer Lingus boss Willie Walsh, who now heads British Airways owner IAG, has been consistently complaining about to the British government, claiming it is seriously damaging the UK's aviation business.
The DAA said that about 500,000 people from Northern Ireland use Dublin Airport every year. However, it believes there's scope to significantly boost the figure. A spokesman for the DAA declined to say how much the semi-state is spending on the new ad campaign.
It's also promoting the fact that passengers flying to the United States through Dublin can clear both US customs and immigration before they arrive at their destination. The facility is one of the only ones of its kind in the world.
ACI said yesterday that while Dublin's passenger traffic had fallen in the year-to-date, it was up 4.5pc between April 2010 and April 2012.
Large parts of northern European airspace was closed in April 2010 due to the eruption of a volcano in Iceland.
ACI said 1.59 million passengers passed through Dublin in April, up 1.2pc compared to April last year.
Oliver Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said stagnant passenger numbers in Europe demonstrated the impact of the continuing debt crisis. "Even resilient major EU hubs are seeing passenger growth weakening below the 3pc mark, also reflecting slowing economies elsewhere, notably in the US, China, India and Brazil," he said.
The continuing uncertainty in Europe "does not bode well" for the summer months at many European airports, he said.