Knock Airport leads the way in Irish passenger growth

Airline passengers figures also increase in Dublin and Kerry, but drop in Cork and Shannon

Airline passenger numbers in the first quarter of this year increased by 4 per cent compared to the same period in 2016 with almost 6.7 million passengers passing through the five main airports in Ireland.

Ireland West Airport Knock, in Co Mayo, was the highest percentage riser, increasing its passenger numbers by 9.1 per cent in the period to over 134,000 passengers. A spokesman for the airport attributed the growth to "strong performance on existing routes, particularly on the UK business".

Speaking to The Irish Times in the wake of the Central Statistics Office (CSO) quarterly aviation statistics, the spokesman for Knock airport said: "despite Brexit concerns, our UK service is up 11 per cent year to date". He added that that's like-for-like growth on the basis that no new routes were introduced in the period.

The Mayo airport carried 735,000 passengers in 2016, 375,000 of whom travelled to London. The airport has ambitions to grow its traffic to 1 million passengers by 2023, the spokesman said. This traffic growth will be built on a number of factors including construction workers travelling to and from the UK. “The economic environment from an Irish perspective has worked in our favour,” the spokesman said.

Knock airport isn’t alone in its growth; Dublin passenger numbers grew by 4.7 per cent in the period while Kerry saw growth of 0.4 per cent. Cork and Shannon airport both saw passenger declines, with the latter seeing a 4 per cent drop in the number of passengers handled.

The most popular destination for passengers leaving Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports was London Heathrow, while London Stansted topped the list for Knock’s outbound passengers. Amsterdam Schiphol airport was the top non-UK destination for Dublin and Cork passengers, while Newark airport, in New Jersey, was Shannon’s top non-UK performer.