2016 has proven to be a record breaking year at Ireland West Airport with passenger numbers exceeding 730,000 for the first time in the airports 31 year history. In 2016, the annual number of passengers using the airport increased by 7% 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 Europes 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% increase on 2015 numbers. The Airport now serves 9 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 increases on UK services highlights the importance of the Airport from a regional perspective in providing essential connectivity for leisure, tourist and business passengers. In 2016 campaigns in excess of €200,000 took place in the UK with Tourism Ireland, promoting access to the West and North West of Ireland whilst a €500,000 advertising campaign headed by Fáilte Ireland in partnership with five local authorities in Mayo, Donegal, Sligo and Galway (City and County ) and Tourism Ireland started this week promoting the airport as the Western gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way from key markets in Edinburgh, Liverpool and Manchester.
2016 proved to be a very eventful year as the airport celebrated a number of milestones, including celebrating the 30th anniversary of the official opening of the airport, a special visit by US Vice President Joe Biden and the airports first ever runway run for charity which saw 1,500 participants take to the famous runway for a 5km run. In addition the airport welcomed its 10 millionth passenger through the airport in July 2016 and towards the end of the year the airport was the focus of a six part UTV Ireland documentary which was watched by over 1.5 million viewers.
In addition in 2016 the airport welcomed an investment by 7 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 airports 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 Govt 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.”
2017 plans to be another exciting year at the airport with the roll out of a number of major projects to enhance and develop the airports facilities to ensure the airport continues to offer an excellent and efficient product to our passengers and airline customers as traffic increases. In May the airport, in partnership with Knock Shrine and Joe Walsh Tours, welcomes a historic charter departing for New York with Aer Lingus which will see the remains of John Curry, the youngest person to witness the Knock Apparition of 1879, re-interred from the current location at Pine Lawn Cemetery, Long Island to St. Patrick’s old Cathedral, New York.