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Only 4% of air passengers in Ireland used Shannon Airport in 2021, 90% used Dublin Airport, 3% used Cork. Photograph by John Kelly

Only 4% of air travellers in 2021 used Shannon Airport


FOUR percent of all passengers to Irish airports in 2021 went through Shannon, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

Obviously Covid-19 was very disruptive to aviation last year, making for a very strange year. Shannon’s 4% was ahead of Cork which had 3%, but Cork was closed for a couple of months due to works on its runway. Dublin was hugely dominant in terms of Irish aviation, with 90% of all passengers.

Shannon had 322,162 passengers during the year, only one fifth of the 2019 figure, just before the pandemic.

The figure was almost 50,000 ahead of 2020. Shannon dealt with 4,836 different flights over the course of the year.

The three most used links with Shannon were all London airports. The busiest route was Stansted with 63,624 passengers, while 33,797 passengers travelled on the London Gatwick route and 24,050 on London Heathrow.

The Heathrow services were significantly reduced in 2021 and the figure would presumably have been far higher had that not been the case.

Only Dublin and Shannon had significant amounts of air freight in 2021, with Shannon having 15,766 tonnes. This was around one ninth of all that Dublin had over the course of the year.

In 2019, just before the pandemic, Dublin had 85.7% of Irish passengers, and it will be hoped that the fact this figure has actually gone up will now be reversed with travel set to be a lot freer in 2022 than in the previous two years.

The long delays seen at Dublin Airport in recent weeks have shown that it may not be able to deal with such a huge share of the Irish market.

Speaking in the Seanad this week Senator Maria Byrne said that Shannon offers significant advantages and that airports other than Dublin need to be used more.

“Although there has been the debacle of the four-hour waiting time in Dublin Airport, there are no queues in Shannon Airport. It is time we used our regional airports. Shannon Airport has a new baggage scanner. It is not even necessary to take one’s laptop out of one’s bag in Shannon Airport.

“It is time that we, the public, used our regional airports and did not concentrate all our eggs in one basket.”

Commenting on the country’s aviation statistics, CSO statistician Nele van der Wielen, said, “The figures continue to show a significant decline in international travel during 2021 compared to pre-Covid-19 travel figures, but an increase compared with 2020.

“Almost 29 million (28,924,756) fewer passengers used Irish airports in 2021 compared with 2019. This represents a fall of 76%.

“The number of flights fell slightly in 2021 compared with 2020 but there were more than one-third (34%) fewer flights taken in 2021 when compared with 2019, from 273,558 flights in 2019 to 94,040 in 2021.

“In Quarter 4 of 2021, almost 2,266,000 passengers travelled to Ireland and 2,275,000 passengers departed from Ireland, representing a fall of 47% in both arrivals and departures compared with 2019.

“The amount of air freight handled by the main airports rose by 16% to 160,855 tonnes in 2021 compared with 2020 and increased by 10% compared with 2019.”

Further commenting on the release, Nele van der Wielen said: “In 2021, nine out of every ten passengers (92%) on international flights were travelling to or from Europe. Within Europe, the United Kingdom and Spain were the most popular routes. Outside of Europe the most popular routes were to or from the United States of America.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.