By Cate McCurry, PA
The number of passengers arriving into Ireland on overseas routes increased by 12 per cent in March, new figures show.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) released its air and sea travel statistics.
It shows that in March, 61,400 passengers arrived in Ireland, an increase of 12 per cent compared to February, which was 54,800 passengers.
The statistics show that continental routes contributed most to the passenger traffic.
Some 34,800 passengers arrived on continental routes and 36,600 passengers departed on continental routes.
By way of contrast, 17,500 passengers arrived on cross-channel routes and 20,400 passengers departed on cross-channel routes.
Just 2,800 passengers arrived on transatlantic routes and 2,700 passengers departed on these routes.
Apart from Britain, which accounted for all cross-channel routes, other routes included Spain at 5,900 arrivals and 5,800 departures, the Netherlands at 5,200 arrivals and 5,800 departures and France with 5,100 arrivals and 5,300 departures.
From the beginning of the year, a total of 224,200 overseas passengers arrived in Ireland and 238,400 overseas passengers left the Republic.
This compares to approximately 3 million arrivals and 3 million departures in the same period in 2020.
Gregg Patrick, statistician, said: “This illustrates the ongoing dramatic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on international travel to and from Ireland.”
Meanwhile, the DAA, which operates Dublin and Cork airports, recorded a loss of €284 million last year due to the impact of the pandemic.
Passenger numbers at its two Irish airports fell by 78 per cent to just 7.9 million in 2020, compared to 35.5 million in 2019.
Almost all of the airport retail outlets that DAA operates in Ireland and overseas were closed for extended periods during the year.
Turnover declined by 69 per cent from €935 million in 2019 to €291 million last year, as the reduction in passengers across all DAA’s markets led to a €644 million fall in business activity.
DAA chief executive Dalton Philips said: “Our Irish airports have been one of the businesses that have been most negatively affected by the impact of Covid-19 over the past 13 months.
“Dublin and Cork airports lost 27.6 million passengers last year, which is more than 5.5 times the population of the State.
“The last time that Dublin and Cork airports had fewer than eight million passengers in a calendar year was in 1994.
“As vaccination levels increase, both at home and in many of our key overseas travel markets, Ireland must develop a road map for exiting mandatory hotel quarantine and for easing the blanket restrictions on overseas travel.
“The aviation industry in Ireland has recently submitted a comprehensive plan to enable the restart of international air travel to and from Ireland in a manner that continues to protect public health.
“Having outlined our recommendations, the industry needs substantive Government engagement on this vital issue.
“Ireland must start planning now for putting in place a system that will allow for international travel again.”