Sunday 25 March 2018

Dublin Airport expecting record numbers of US tourists next year thanks to cheap euro

Dublin Airport expecting record numbers of Americans next year

Dublin airport
Dublin airport
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

America has fallen in love with Ireland again - because the price is right.

The strong dollar, the low threat from terrorism here and better air links will swell transatlantic passenger numbers to record levels this year.

And tourism chiefs believe the record will be smashed again in 2016.

One event alone, the American college football game between Boston College and Georgia Tech at the Aviva Stadium in September, will mean a massive influx of US visitors at the end of the tourist season, who will directly spend more than €100m.

Analysis of visitor 'habits' during the 2012 gridiron game in Dublin, featuring the University of Notre Dame, show traveling fans usually spent time in three cities during their Irish trip.

Dublin Airport is now set to join the ranks of London's Heathrow and Paris's Charles de Gaulle as the top European aviation hubs for North American visitors next year.

For the first time ever, Dublin Airport will be among the top five European airports for transatlantic connectivity next year, according to the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

As Ireland celebrates the centenary of the 1916 Rising, Dublin Airport will be among Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, Schiphol and Madrid airports, offering the most direct and connecting flights to and from Europe and the USA and Canada, a spokesman told the Sunday Independent.

"Basically, we've joined the big time," an aviation source said.

The boom in transatlantic flights comes as the CSO last week reported an increase of 550,000 trips by North American visitors here during the summer months alone - an increase of 12.3pc over the same July-September period last year.

The phenomenal growth in flights across the Atlantic in less than a decade has seen a doubling in transatlantic passenger numbers from 1m in 2000 to 2.1m this year, according to the DAA.

And the announcement last month that Aer Lingus will offer five weekly flights between Dublin and Los Angeles on top of new daily flights to Newark, New Jersey and Hartford, Connecticut next year will add 17pc to the airline's transatlantic capacity and propel Ireland to a major position in the European-North American route, the spokesman said.

Ireland already became the sixth-largest airport in Europe offering transatlantic flights during this past summer's peak season, with more than 325 weekly flights on 10 airlines to 11 destinations in the US and four in Canada. But that number will jump to 16 North American destinations next year, which is a far cry from just four daily direct flights between Dublin, New York, Boston, Chicago and Atlanta that were available in 2006, the spokesman said.

"Since 2014, Dublin Airport has welcomed 11 new transatlantic services. There are very few European airports that have added 11 new transatlantic services since 2014," he said.

"Between 2010 and 2014, Dublin Airport's transatlantic traffic grew by 42pc and we're seeing strong double-digit growth again this year."

Along with the growth in business travellers and tourists, Dublin Airport is also seeing "significant growth" in the number of North American passengers who are using the airport as a gateway or transfer hub to Europe and other destinations, he said, adding that Dublin also had the distinction of being the fastest growing long-haul destination in Europe this summer.

"This growing transfer traffic underpins Dublin Airport's ability to attract new transatlantic routes and also to expand existing services," he said.

Sunday Independent

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