Traffic at Irish airports has landed with a bump as new figures show they suffered the biggest decline in passenger numbers of any EU member state in 2010.
Data published by the European Commission shows that the country’s three main airports recorded a 12.1% reduction in passenger traffic in 2010 at a time when there was a general recovery in the air transport industry in Europe.
About 23.1m passengers used Irish airports in 2010, according to Eurostat.
Ireland was one of only six EU countries to register a fall in air traffic that year as overall air passenger numbers grew by 3.4% across the EU to 777m.
The number of people flying on domestic routes here declined by almost 43% to 360,000, largely as a result of the development of the motorway network and a corresponding reduction in flights serving regional airports.
The eruption of an Icelandic volcano which caused major disruption to air transport in Apr 2010 also had an impact on traffic levels at Irish airports.
Dublin recorded the largest reduction of any of Europe’s top 30 airports in 2010, with passenger numbers down 10.1% to 18.4m, a fall of more than 2m. The number of flights serving Dublin also fell by 8% to 153,000.
Dublin is now ranked the 17th busiest airport within the EU — just one place behind London Stansted.
The study shows that London Heathrow remains the busiest airport in the EU with 66m passengers in 2010 followed by Charles de Gaulle in Paris (58m), Frankfurt (53m), Barajas in Madrid (50m), and Schiphol in Amsterdam (45m).
On a more positive note, air freight and mail at Dublin Airport grew 9.1% in 2010.
Flights between Ireland and Britain are the eighth highest ranking on inter-country traffic with almost 9.6m people flying between the two countries in 2010, accounting for 3.1% of all intra-EU traffic.
Flights between Britain and Spain are ranked first with annual passenger traffic of 28.8m.
However, the top 10 busiest routes are domestic flights, with Madrid to Barcelona being the busiest in Europe, with almost 3.1m passengers per annum.
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