Christmas air passengers at Dublin and Cork expected to be nearly 90% down

DAA gears up for quietest Christmas season in decades

Cork and Dublin airports predict a near 90 per cent slump in Christmas passengers as pandemic restrictions hit festive travel.

Dubin Airport expects just 137,000 people to travel through there this Christmas against, 88 per cent fewer than the 1.2 million people it hosted over the 2019 holiday.

Cork forecasts that numbers will tumble 89 per cent to 13,000 this year from 119,000 last Christmas.

About 127,000 of Dublin's passengers are travelling to and from Ireland, while about 10,000 people are connecting to flights to other destinations.


“Dublin Airport will be quieter this Christmas than it has been in decades,” said Dublin Airport spokeswoman Siobhán O’Donnell.

Kevin Cullinane, head of communications at Cork, said the airport would have flights to just five destinations over the period.


“Cork Airport will experience one of the quietest Christmases in decades this year with just 11 per cent of normal passenger levels,” he acknowledged.

New figures from State company DAA show some 23.5 million fewer people travelled through Dublin Airport in the first 11 months of this year compared with the same period in 2019.

The data shows some 175,000 people travelled through Dublin Airport in November, just 8 per cent of the 2.2 million who passed through there during the same month in 2019. Last month’s figures left the airport’s total passenger tally for the first 11 months of the year at 7.1 million.

Confirmation of the drop in passenger numbers comes as Cork and Dublin airport workers are being told they could have full pay restored from March 28th on hopes that vaccines will begin reviving air travel in 2021.

Most staff at DAA, responsible for Cork and Dublin Airports, are on 80 per cent pay while the organisation combats the impact of Covid-19 on its businesses.

In an update to workers, Dalton Philips, DAA chief executive, says, "I'm pleased to confirm that the intention is to return colleagues to 100 per cent salary levels from March 28th, 2021".

Mr Philips’s note to staff explains that the decision is being made in light of prospects that vaccines could boost air travel next year and the effort made across the business to counter the pandemic’s impact on aviation.


However, Mr Philips warns that if passenger traffic does not recover enough next summer, the company may have to review the pay situation again. “I hope that we don’t have to do that but we can take nothing for granted,” his update adds.

DAA staff in areas where new work practices have yet to be agreed are on 60 per cent pay. Mr Philips says that restoration of wages depends on staff agreeing and implementing new practices.

Staff in areas where those practices are agreed, but not implemented by March 28th, will remain on 80 per cent, until full implementation.

Those working in sections where changes are neither agreed nor implemented will remain on 60 per cent until they reach, and implement, a deal.

His note adds that voluntary severance and retirement deals will close on December 31st this year.

DAA, which employs 3,500 people in the Republic, has sought to cut staff numbers by between 750 and 1,000 through these deals, and career break packages.

Meanwhile, a breakdown of the passenger figures shows that around 175,000 people travelled through Dublin Airport in November, just 8 per cent of the 2.2 million who passed through there during the same month in 2019.

Last month’s figures left the airport’s total passenger tally for the first 11 months of the year at 7.1 million.


By the end of November last year, Dublin Airport had handled a total of 30.6 million people. The 2020 total is trailing this by 23.5 million or 77 per cent.

Passenger numbers to and from continental Europe fell by 91 per cent in November 2020, as almost 101,000 people travelled to and from European destinations last month, according to DAA.

UK traffic declined by 94 per cent compared to last November, as almost 48,700 passengers travelled to and from Britain during the month.

Passenger numbers to and from North America decreased by 94 per cent as almost 17,000 passengers travelled on transatlantic routes during November.

Other international passenger traffic to the Middle East fell by 89 per cent, with almost 7,000 passengers travelling last month.

The number of passengers on domestic routes decreased by 78 per cent, as 1,600 people took domestic flights in November.


The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks this week called for some easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions to boost Christmas traffic and aid the Republic's ailing aviation industry.

However, Stephen Donnelly, the Minister for Health, said the committee was wrong to call for a relaxation of advice on non-essential aviation travel around Christmas.

Mr Donnelly warned that people returning to the Republic for Christmas could potentially spread the virus.

Most EU countries are branded red for travel, meaning that anyone arriving here from those states has to self-isolate for two weeks unless they test negative for Covid-19 five days after landing.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas