Summer travel back on track as Irish airports see surge in passengers

Airports return to pre-Covid numbers

This summer is set to be the busiest for Dublin and Cork Airports since before the Covid-19 pandemic as holidaymakers set off for the sun, operator DAA said.

More than three million passengers passed through Dublin Airport in May, the operator said, back to 2019 levels and 17 per cent higher than 2022. Cork Airport, meanwhile, saw more than 262,000 passengers use the airport, a 28 per cent increase year on year and 10 per cent higher than 2019.

“At Cork Airport, the uplift in passenger traffic remains extremely strong with double digit growth on May 2019 passenger numbers,” DAA chief executive, Kenny Jacobs, said. “In fact, passenger traffic seen last month was on par with some of the historically busy weeks of late July and early August in years past.”

Spain is set to be the top destination for Dublin Airport passengers this summer, with Malaga and Barcelona predicted to be the most popular locations during June, July and August. Madrid and Lanzarote also in the top 10.


For Cork passengers, Malaga, Lanzarote, Reus, Alicante and Valencia are expected to remain popular. Cork recently added a new Ryanair route to Seville, bringing to 10 the number of Spanish destinations available direct from Cork Airport.

“Spain is always a magnet for Irish tourists at this time of year and the current warm and sunny spell of weather here in Ireland is likely to have whetted their appetite nicely for a week or two on the beach or beside the pool,” said Mr Jacobs.

“Our transatlantic routes will be busy this summer too, with Chicago, New York and Boston all featuring in our top 10 destinations, while Toronto is also proving extremely popular too, sitting just outside the top 10.”

Dublin Airport is also promising improved standards inside the terminals, with security screening currently meeting targets of getting at least 90 per cent of passengers through in under 20 minutes. The airport has also increased the number of seats available at gates, improved food and drink offerings in both terminals and focused more on cleanliness.

The airport has also rolled out a number of new cabin baggage security scanners that allow passengers to have carry-on baggage screened without having to remove liquids.

The improvements come as the airports return to pre-Covid passenger numbers and tourism rebounded. Dublin Airport expected to handle 425,000 passengers through the June bank holiday weekend, matching its tally for the same holiday in 2019, the year before Government Covid-19 curbs restricted travel in and out of the Republic. Meanwhile, Cork Airport estimated that it would cater for 56,500 passengers over the weekend, 3 per cent better than its 2019 June weekend performance.

Shannon Airport recorded its busiest day in seven years over the June bank holiday weekend, with 7,800 passengers travelling through the airport on June 2nd.

In May, passenger numbers rose 27 per cent year on year.

“We are continuing to see an increase in the volume of passengers through Shannon since the start of the year. There is a real appetite for overseas travel, especially as we reach peak holiday season,” said chief executive of the Shannon Airport Group, Mary Considine.

“This summer, we are providing a gateway for thousands of passengers to 33 destinations across 11 countries in the UK, USA and Europe. We have taken comprehensive measures, including our high-tech security screening system, to ensure a relaxed and hassle-free travel experience and the fruit of our labour is evident on record breaking days like last Friday.”

DAA is also expected to seek planning permission to expand its existing US Customs Pre-Clearance and Border Protection facility (CBP) to cater for an increasing number of US-bound passengers, with almost 1.7 million people expected to use the facilities this year.

The CBP facilities at Dublin and Shannon airports allow US-bound passengers to go through US immigration, customs and agriculture inspections at the airports before departure.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist