Scorching sun illuminates passengers as they start to return to skies

Cantillon: Hotspots tempt as Dublin Airport expects to host 20,000 passengers a day

With a near-perverse touch of irony, Irish temperatures soared past those of popular sunspots including the Costa del Sol and Canary Islands on Monday, the very day that the Republic began reopening travel.

It won't have mattered much to those boarding planes destined for popular holiday destinations in Spain, Portugal and elsewhere, as many people won't have had an overseas holiday since summer 2019.

Over the past week or so, fully vaccinated people have been receiving their digital EU Covid certificates, allowing them to travel in the EU and European Economic Area. Consequently, news websites carried pictures of smiling passengers leaving Cork, Dublin and Shannon airports.

Shannon announced that Ryanair would begin flying once a week to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria from August 7th, bringing total destinations from the midwest to 17. DAA said that Dublin would have 36 airlines flying to more than 130 destinations in the coming weeks, while Cork would have six carriers serving 20.


No great exodus

But there will be no great exodus either. According to some calculations, Dublin Airport can expect to host about 20,000 passengers a day this week, against what would have been 115,000 before the pandemic.

Reports said that flight movements at the Republic's biggest airport would total 297 on Monday, whereas it would usually expect about 750. Dublin and Cork airports have hosted 43 million fewer passengers in the past 16 months, DAA chief executive Dalton Philips noted.

Transatlantic traffic, important to both Dublin and Shannon, is still suffering, as the US continues to restrict inward travel by non-citizens and those without green cards.

Confidence in European air travel’s recovery also remains shakey. Ryanair and Easyjet shares shed about 6 per cent on Monday on fears that Covid’s Delta variant would prompt the UK to add more continental destinations to its red list.

For now, much of the traffic here is likely to be outward. As the Republic maintained tougher restrictions than most in Europe, while delaying the first stage of reopening until well into the summer, the industry does not expect an influx of tourists. So airlines will be hoping normal Irish summer weather returns quickly to send yet more of us off in search of some sun.