The number of passengers using Kerry Airport, the privately owned regional airport in Farranfore, between Killarney and Tralee, continues to rise, as the airport starts talks on its subsidised routes.
Some 325,670 passengers travelled through Kerry in 2016 compared to 307,000 the previous year, an increase of 6%, according to the Kerry Airport company results.
It had profits after tax of €287,613, up from just €30,980 the previous year.
The daily Kerry-Dublin essential services route, which are subsidised by the Government and the EU, were up 10%; the daily London routes to Luton and Stansted were up 9%; and Frankfurt-Hahn, which operates four times a week between March and October, also grew 9%.
The airport is keen to increase connections with Germany.
Chairman Denis Cregan announced a new twice weekly service to Berlin, beginning in November.
Load factors on the summer sun routes to Alicante and Faro also increased significantly.
It is the second year in succession the airport has seen numbers increase.
Turnover increased from €5.8m to €6m, reflecting increased passenger-related revenues for the year.
Profitability was enhanced by achieving better margins on a number of key revenue sources, as well as from higher levels of Government grants of €626,855 last year, according to the airport.
The airport spend €581,000 on safety and security, including upgrading firefighting equipment, helped by funding from the Department of Transport.
Mr Cregan, however, warned about the current subsidised public service obligation contract for regional air services on the Kerry-Dublin route for the period 2015-18.
“Discussions are already in progress and will be on-going with the Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport and his officials with regard to the renewal of the contract for another three years,” said Mr Cregan.
The Kerry-Dublin air service was of critical strategic importance to the south-west region, he added.
He called on users to increase their support and use the airport more frequently, urging people to opt to fly to Dublin City.
During his first ministerial visit to Kerry in recent weeks, Transport Minister Shane Ross met with Kerry County chief executive Moira Murrell, a member of the board of the airport, and with tourism and business leaders and airport management at Farranfore.
The business leaders stressed the importance of the route to gain access to Kerry and the south-west region.
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