Numbers travelling through Dublin Airport on Monday will climb by 50 per cent compared with the same day last week, but will remain down dramatically on those normally recorded on a July day.
While international travel to and from destinations across Europe is set resume, the market for leisure travel remains depressed. It is shrouded in uncertainty and tinged with fear, according to industry sources.
About 22,500 people are expected to come and go through the airport at the start of next week, significantly up on the 14,000 who travelled last Monday and the 12,000 who used the airport each day in the last week of June.
The number of people who used Dublin Airport on July 19th, 2019, stood at 116,163.
Friday looks like being the busiest day at the airport next week with just under 24,000 set to leave Dublin. The number who flew in 2019 was 115,919.
From next week, the Republic will start implementing a system to allow those who have been vaccinated fully, or have recovered fully from Covid-19, travel to EU destinations without restrictions as long as they have been issued with a Digital Covid Certificate.
A Dublin Airport spokeswoman said the airport is ready for an increased volume of passengers. Although she urged people to be patient and accept that new regulations would make the airport experience different to what people are used to.
“We have had an operational readiness team in place for the past couple of months in anticipation of this day. We are geared up for it and are looking forward to what I think will be a momentous occasion,” said the DAA’s Siobhán O’Donnell.
“It is the light at the end of a very long tunnel but it will be a slow and gradual return. And we want to make sure that when aviation reopens, it opens for good,” she said.
Chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association Pat Dawson said his members had been reporting "a shuffle of people" inquiring about holidays for the remainder of the summer. But he stressed "it was a long way off an avalanche". He said bookings in the autumn were stronger. "There is so much uncertainty, particularly when it comes to families and there is nervousness out there too so booking-wise I would have to say it is slow."
He had noted a trend of people with holiday homes travelling as well as an increased interest in self-catering options over hotels as people look to travel overseas while seeking the capacity to socially distance and avoid crowds while away.
"We see what is happening to the Covid numbers in Spain and Portugal so we know this is not over yet and we can see that there is negativity out there for sure," said Mr Dawson.
Digital Covid Certificate
He pointed to airline bookings and fares, which he said, were climbing faster in September and October than this month and in August. “Fares in July would normally be around €500 but now there are flights for a couple of hundred euro and that shows there is availability. If something is heavily booked then it will always be heavily priced.”
Mr Dawson expressed hope that rollout of the Digital Covid Certificate would clear up a lot of the uncertainty that still exists among would-be travellers. But he warned people to ensure that the name on it matched the name on their passport.
“I am hearing of a lot of people who might be known by one name by their GP but another on their passport and that will be a problem. They have to be the same and there is no point in travelling if they are not as you will simply not get on the plane.”
He advised anyone with concerns to contact the Health Service Executive helpline when it goes live next week.
Ryanair welcomed what it said was the "the long delayed resumption of restriction-free air travel between Ireland, the UK and the EU".
Its chief executive Eddie Wilson said there had been "no justification for the 19-day delay which has left Ireland, yet again, the only outlier in recovering aviation and tourism".