Ireland's aviation chief warns on Brexit risks

Ireland’s performance could be hampered by the impact of Brexit, the decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU).
“Air connectivity between Ireland and the UK is hugely important to the Irish economy both for tourism and trade. The UK market accounts for over 60 per cent of the capacity from Shannon, Kerry and Knock and for over 40 per cent of all the passengers from Dublin,” said Eamonn Brennan, chief executive of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).
“If we look at the number of business trips we have via air travel across the whole of the EU, 44 per cent are with the UK. It really is a crucial enabler for the Irish economy. Air connectivity all over the world is based on air service agreements and once the UK leaves the EU a new air service agreement will have to be put in place between the EU27 and the UK.
“If that agreement constrains the ability to fly easily between Ireland and the UK or for Irish airlines to operate freely around the EU, then that will be bad for Irish economy in general. It looks like we are heading for a hard Brexit so it’s really vital that aviation is at the forefront of the negotiations from an Irish perspective.
“That’s very important as the rest of the EU might not share the same view as us. Brexit does offer some opportunities to Ireland, such as increasing the attractiveness to transit through Ireland to North America rather than the UK and our airports will be seeking to capitalise on that but in broader terms a hard Brexit will be difficult for the Irish civil aviation industry.”
The IAA said air traffic grew by 7.5 per cent (or 81,373 movements) in January 2017 compared to the same month last year, continuing the strong performance of 2016.
Within that figure, there was an increase of 5.3 per cent in Ireland’s overflight traffic movements (flights, which do not land in Ireland) and North Atlantic Communications flights (Europe /US Flights) recorded an increase of 8.5 per cent in January. There were 24,682 overflight traffic movements and 35,661 North Atlantic Communications flights during the month.
Reporting on January traffic levels, Brennan said traffic in 2017 got off to a strong start, building on the very encouraging gains of last year. “Up to 90 per cent of transatlantic air traffic passes through Irish-controlled airspace, so I am particularly pleased with the strong growth in our en route traffic,” he said. “On the domestic front, terminal air traffic at Dublin and Shannon continues to increase strongly with growth of 4.3 per cent and 5.6 per cent recorded respectively in January.”
In terms of domestic air traffic, the combined figure for commercial flights at Shannon, Dublin and Cork airports was up by 3.8 per cent in January 2017. Individually, the January 2017 figures for the three state airports, when compared to the same month in the previous year are:

  • Dublin up 4.3 per cent with an average of 489 commercial daily movements.
  • Cork down 4.2 per cent, with an average of 42 commercial daily movements.
  • Shannon up 5.6 per cent with an average of 42 commercial daily movements.