By Gordon Deegan
Cork and Shannon airports have lost a combined 12 percentage points in market share over the past 13 years as Dublin Airport’s dominance has increased, new figures show.
According to 2017 figures provided by Transport Minister Shane Ross, Shannon and Cork airports had a combined market share of 11.6%, with Cork having 6.6% and Shannon on a 5% share.
The figures provided in a written Dáil reply to Niall Collins show that the combined 11.6% market share for Cork and Shannon is down 12 percentage points on the combined 23.6% share the two airports had in 2005.
In 2005, Cork’s market share was 10.7% and Shannon’s share was 12.9%.
During the same period, Dublin’s market share has increased by almost 13 points from 72.3% in 2005 to 85.1% last year.
The minister’s reply coincides with new CSO figures from the CSO showing that the independently-run Shannon was the only major Irish airport to lose passenger numbers last year. Shannon secured its independence from the DAA in 2013.
The figures show Passenger numbers at Shannon fell 4.5% to 1.59m. Dublin Airport increased its passenger numbers by 6% to 29.45m with Cork Airport adding 3.4% in passenger numbers to 2.3m.
Shannon Airport said that since 2013, it has grown passenger number by 25%.
DAA spokesman Paul O’Kane said: “The premise that Dublin’s growth is necessarily at the expense of other regional airports in the State is incorrect.
He said: “In recent years for example, Dublin has built a significant hub business, which generated 1.8m passengers last year, none of whom started or ended their journey in Ireland.
“The hub business didn’t exist in 2011 and accounts for about 17% of Dublin’s extra passengers since then.
Mr O’Kane pointed out that “comparisons with Irish air traffic data in 2005 reflect the fact that there were more than 1m people taking domestic flights at that point”.
“Ireland’s motorway network and the growth in coach services to Dublin Airport from all over the country has meant this domestic market is now almost negligible. The advent of the motorway network also means that most of the State is now easily accessible from Dublin, which wasn’t the case in 2005. The Shannon stopover was also still in place in 2005, as it was only fully unwound in 2008.
“Over the past two years, Dublin and Cork airports have grown their passenger numbers by 18.4% and 11.5% respectively.
“In both years Dublin was the State’s fastest growing airport, and Cork Airport was its second-fastest growing airport.
The fact that a small country’s largest airport has more than 80% of total traffic is not unusual in Europe. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport accounts for more than 90% of Dutch passenger traffic while Copenhagen Airport has about 84% of Danish passenger traffic.
Mr O’Kane’s comments follow a recent call by trade union Fórsa that opening a third terminal at Dublin Airport would further concentrate tourism and economic development in the overheating greater Dublin area, damaging prospects for balanced regional development.
Joe Buckley of Fórsa told a recent conference: “If the Government really wants to attract jobs to our regions, it must develop and implement an aviation policy capable of better distributing passenger traffic to all regions.”