By Pádraig Hoare
Dublin Airport continued to grow faster than its counterparts in Cork and Shannon in the first quarter, growing more than 4%, according to official figures.
CSO statistics showed just over 6.9m passengers passed through the five main airports in the first three months, an increase of just under 4% over the same period in 2017.
Shannon arrested its decline of recent quarters, increasing its numbers by 2% compared to the same period last year.
However Shannon’s 277,000 passengers in the first quarter of 2018 were down from the same period in 2016, when almost 283,000 were recorded.
Passenger numbers also increased in Cork and Kerry in the first quarter, while passenger numbers decreased in Knock, the CSO said.
Dublin Airport accounted for 87% of all air passengers in the first quarter of 2018, the figures show.
Kerry saw the biggest growth with an almost 11% rise to 65,000, compared with the same period in 2017, while Cork expanded almost 2.5%.
More than 54,600 flights were handled by the five main airports in the first quarter, with Dublin accounting for almost 85%.
London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick and Amsterdam-Schiphol were the most popular routes for passengers for Dublin Airport in the first quarter of 2018.
The top three routes out of Cork Airport were London-Heathrow, London-Stansted and Amsterdam-Schiphol.
The top route for Shannon was London-Heathrow, Knock was London-Stansted and Kerry was London-Luton.
On Shannon’s turnaround, managing director Andrew Murphy said a “positive start of the year” was helped by a number of new services, including three with Ryanair, and a return of Delta’s trans- atlantic flights.
“Transatlantic is performing very well, we have had the return of Delta’s JFK flights, and this coming weekend see the commencement of a Toronto route with Air Canada.
So, we’re quite happy with how the year is shaping up,” he said.
When seasonally adjusted, there was a 2% fall in the number of passengers in the main airports in the first quarter, compared with the final quarter of 2018.
Dublin Airport’s dominance has led to criticism of the DAA, which manages Cork Airport.
Business and political leaders have said more resources are needed for Cork to compete.
Irish Travel Agents Association chief executive Pat Dawson said Cork needed connectivity all over Europe, saying it was “totally unacceptable” “all roads led to Dublin” when it came to new transatlantic, Asian and European routes.