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Cork & Dublin increase traffic as Shannon loses passengers

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Both Cork and Dublin Airports recorded increases in traffic last month while Shannon Airport went in the opposite direction.

On the back of Ryanair announcing a twice weekly service to Katotwice in Poland, Cork Airport had further reason to celebrate with 151,000 passengers in February up 14,000 on the same month last year. Managing Director, Niall McCarthy told The Clare Echo, “We are seeing a keen interest from passengers in continental European destinations, including Aer Lingus’ new year-round service to Lisbon and the daily Air France service to Paris, which has strong onward connections”. Management have predicted 2.6m people will use the airport in 2019, a projected growth of 8% with passenger numbers expected to rise by 17% across the year.

Dublin set a new February record with more than 2 million passengers flying into the capital last month, a 9% increase on the same time in 2018. Traditionally the airport’s quietest month of the year, February 2019 was the first time in its 79 year history that passenger numbers surpassed 2m. Traffic headed to continental Europe (12%), the UK (4%) and North America (15%) all rose. Thus far in 2019, close to 4.1 million passengers have used Dublin Airport which is up 7% on last year.

Meanwhile Shannon bucked the trend of increased traffic with a single digit drop in figures month on month. Speaking to The Clare Echo, a spokesperson for Shannon Airport attributed this reduction largely to the loss of the Kuwait Airlines transit flights which first began in June 2016 as a temporary service and ended in January 2019. “February was the first full month that we were impacted by this. Because this is off-peak season, the loss of this daily service has had a disproportionate impact compared to what will be the case during the summer season”.

“Shannon’s traffic is made up of two components, transit and scheduled terminal traffic. While the impact on transit traffic is evident in this month’s figures, we are confident that our schedule passenger traffic will be up year-on-year.  This will be aided by new services from Ibiza and East Midlands and further growth on transatlantic services,” the spokesperson added.

It is another setback for Shannon as at the beginning of February it was revealed to be the least punctual airport in the country. Data compiled by UK-based aviation analytics firm OAG suggested that on average, just under 32% of all flights at the Clare hub were delayed in 2018 which management pointed to its high volume of long-haul traffic as the main reason for time keeping issues. The figures show that Shannon was also the worst performer in 2017, when just over a quarter of its flights didn’t arrive or depart on time. This indicates that its on-time performance declined by 5.1 percentage points year-on-year.

A Shannon Airport spokesman said that its airline customers “have a great track record in terms of punctuality” and suggested that the hub’s figures were “somewhat skewed by the fact that 31% of our flights are long-haul compared to the other airports”.

According to OAG’s league, the second-least punctual airport last year was Dublin, where 30.1% of flights were delayed in 2018. The previous year, the share of flights that were delayed was 23%. Airport operations, ground handling, air traffic control and knock-on delays caused by issues at other transport hubs were mentioned by a Dublin Airport spokesperson for their delays.

Cork Airport was named as the most punctual airport with 81% of its flights leaving and arriving on time. In 2018, flights at Belfast International Airport and Belfast City Airport arrived or departed on time 76.4% and 80.8% of the time respectively.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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