The increase comes on the back of a year which saw a positive reversal in the fortunes of the airport, including the addition of nine new routes and three new airlines.
Figures released by the airport show growth across all markets. Some of the biggest increases were on routes involving Spain and Portugal which experienced rises of 13.5% and 35.5% respectively.
UK routes saw an increase of 7%, while Germany saw an increase of 75% in passenger growth. This is mainly due to the addition of a new Dusseldorf service as well as the strong performance of the German inbound market.
Cork Airport says it is already celebrating a strong start to 2017 following the announcement that Aer Lingus Regional is to operate a new service to Newquay Cornwall for the summer season.
The airline has also confirmed an additional daily service to London Heathrow as well as increased capacity across its most popular summer routes. The new services will mean there will be an extra 1.1m available seats operating out of Cork for the season.
In October, it was confirmed that transatlantic flights from Cork via Iceland would begin in May.
Head of communications at Cork Airport Kevin Cullinane said the numbers were a sign the airport’s return to growth strategy was bearing fruit.
“Central to our strategy is attracting new routes and new airlines while building frequencies and capacity on existing services, which we did with great success in 2016,” he said. “We launched several new routes to destinations such as Cardiff, La Rochelle, Southampton, Nantes and Madrid among others and welcomed CityJet, Flybe and Iberia Express as our newest airline partners.”
Mr Cullinane said passenger growth is expected to increase by 5% in 2017.
“This is thanks to the news that Wow air with be operating a transatlantic offering via Reykjavik, Swiss will launch a new direct service to Zurich, while Volotea will launch its planned Verona service,” he said. “And of, course the very eagerly awaited direct transatlantic services to Boston and New York with Norwegian Air International are expected to take off this summer also, with tickets due to go on sale in February.”