Published on April 24th, 2022 | by Mark Dwyer


CSO Publish Aviation Statistics for Quarter 4 and Year 2021

Air travel continued to be significantly impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions last year. In 2021, 9.1 million passengers passed through the main Irish airports, an increase of 10% on 2020 but still down by 76% compared with 2019.  In the fourth quarter of 2021, 4.5 million passengers passed through the main Irish airports, a fall of 47% compared with Q4 of 2019. Dublin airport accounted for 90% of air passengers carried in 2021.

Commenting on the release, Nele van der Wielen, Statistician, 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.”

Some other interesting statistics show that:

  • More than 94,000 flights were handled by Ireland’s main airports in 2021, a fall of two-thirds (-66%) compared with 2019. Dublin accounted for 88% of all flights (82,514), while Shannon handled 5% of all flights (4,836).
  • London-Heathrow and Amsterdam-Schiphol were the most popular routes for passengers for Dublin airport in 2021. For Cork airport, London-Heathrow and London-Stansted were the most popular routes. The top route for Shannon was London-Stansted, while the top route for Kerry and Knock airports was London-Luton in 2021. 
  • In 2021, nine out of every ten (92%) passengers travelling on international flights through the main Irish airports were travelling to or from Europe. The two most popular countries of origin/destination were the United Kingdom and Spain. Outside of Europe, the United States of America was the most popular country of origin/destination in 2021. 
  • Ireland’s main airports handled a total of 160,855 tonnes of freight in 2021, the vast majority (91%) of which was international freight. This was an increase of 10% in freight handled in 2021 when compared with 2019. 
  • When seasonally adjusted, there was an increase of 71% in the number of passengers that passed through the main airports in Quarter 4 of 2021 compared with Quarter 3 of 2021. 

The full report is available to view here.

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About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

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