2016 was a record-breaking year at Ireland West Airport with passenger numbers exceeding 730,000 for the first time in the airport’s 31-year history.
In 2016, the annual number of passengers using the airport increased by 7 per cent to 734,031, an increase of 48,563 passengers compared to 2015. The airport now serves 23 international destinations and is served by three of Europe’s major international airlines - Aer Lingus, Flybe, and Ryanair.
The growth in passenger numbers in 2016 was fuelled by the commencement of four new services to Birmingham and Edinburgh with Flybe, Costa Dorada with Falcon & Thomson Holidays and the arrival of the first-ever charter service from Boston with Aer Lingus. Extra capacity on existing services from Barcelona, Bristol, Faro, and Manchester also helped drive passenger numbers to record levels in 2016.
The UK market saw the biggest increase in 2016 with an extra 55,000 passengers using UK services to and from the airport which represented a 10 per cent increase on 2015 numbers. The airport now serves nine different airports across the UK, which represents the biggest selection of UK services to and from the West and North West of Ireland.
The strong increase in UK services highlights the importance of the airport from a regional perspective in providing essential connectivity for leisure, tourist, and business passengers.
Last year saw the airport celebrate a number of milestones, including celebrating the 30th anniversary of its official opening, a special visit by US Vice President, Joe Biden, and the airport’s first ever runway run for charity which saw 1,500 people take part. In addition, the airport welcomed its 10 millionth passenger in July 2016 and towards the end of the year was the focus of a six-part UTV Ireland documentary which was watched by more than 1.5 million viewers.
In addition, in 2016 the airport welcomed an investment by seven Local Authorities for an equity shareholding into the airport, which has seen the formation of a unique and positive collaboration with local government in the areas of tourism, economic development, and diaspora engagement.
Commenting on the 2016 performance, Joe Gilmore, managing director at Ireland West Airport, said: “We are delighted to have had a record year in 2016 with passenger numbers exceeding 730,000 for the first time in the airport’s history, which is good news for the regional economy, for tourism, and for job creation both at the airport and in the wider economy.
“2016 was a memorable year on many levels and having a record year in the year of our 30th anniversary was a fitting end to a great year for the airport. I would like to express our thanks to all our customers, stakeholders, tourism groups, local authorities, and Government representatives for their continued support in helping us to grow and develop essential international connectivity, that will lead to more jobs and prosperity for the people of the West and North West of Ireland.
“I would also like to say a special word of thanks to the staff at the airport for their hard work and continued focus on ensuring the customer and passenger experience through the airport is both a safe and welcoming one.”
Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Congratulations to Ireland West Airport on a record-breaking year in 2016. Working closely with airports and airlines to build demand for routes is a key priority for Tourism Ireland and we were delighted to co-operate with the airport during 2016 on a number of campaigns in the all-important British market.
“As an island destination, the importance of convenient, direct, non-stop flights to Ireland cannot be overstated – there is a proven direct correlation between access and growth in visitor numbers. Tourism Ireland is committed to working with Ireland West Airport, our airline partners and other tourism partners, to stimulate new flights and to jointly promote existing routes, to help boost tourism to the West and North West of Ireland.”
This year is planned to be another exciting one at the airport with the roll-out of a number of major projects to enhance and develop the airport’s facilities, and to ensure it continues to offer an excellent and efficient product to passengers and airline customers as traffic increases.