Posted on Monday 11 March 2013 by Ulster Business

Paul O Kane

More than half a million Northern Ireland residents used Dublin Airport last year, a 15 per cent increase on 2011, according to new figures from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

The growth in business was far in excess of the average at Dublin Airport in 2012, as total passenger numbers at the airport increased by a more modest 2 per cent to 19.1 million.

"Dublin Airport's business from Northern Ireland is booming," said DAA Public Affairs Director Paul O'Kane (pictured). "Last year 521,000 Northern Ireland passengers travelled through Dublin Airport, which is equivalent to almost 30 per cent of the population of the North."

The growth in business is due to a number of factors, according to O'Kane, who cited the route network of direct flights to 170 destinations, new airport facilities, as well as the improvements made to the main roads between Northern Ireland and Dublin.

Holiday and leisure trips accounted for just over 70 per cent of travel by Northern Ireland residents through Dublin Airport, while almost 20 per cent travelled for business reasons. Three quarters of Northern Ireland passengers took a direct flight from Dublin to their final destination, while 25 per cent transferred to a connecting flight to complete their journey.

Dublin Airport is also a key source of tourist visitors to Northern Ireland with 62 per cent of all air passengers travelling to the island of Ireland coming through Dublin, the airport operator said.

"Tourists want direct flights and Dublin Airport is a vital provider of incoming leisure and business travel for Northern Ireland," said O'Kane.

The number of Northern Ireland-based passengers using Dublin Airport has almost doubled since 2010 and the airport is confident of further growth.

"We recently added new long-haul destinations such as Dubai and Washington DC and new European destinations such as Düsseldorf, Palermo, and Bologna. The growth in transatlantic capacity means that this summer, we will have 224 weekly flights to and from the United States and Canada, which is more than Gatwick or Manchester airports," said O'Kane.

As the home base for Aer Lingus, and Ryanair, Dublin Airport has an extensive short-haul network with direct flights to many European cities.

London Heathrow was the most popular destination for Northern Ireland passengers using Dublin Airport last year, while the top ten destinations comprised four long-haul and six short-haul routes. Eight of the top ten destinations for Northern Ireland passengers using Dublin Airport were not served by the airports in Northern Ireland.

With direct flights to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, passengers from Northern Ireland are also using Dublin Airport to travel to the Middle East and onward connecting destinations in Africa, India, South East Asia and Australia.

Last year, Dublin Airport created a specific advertising campaign for Northern Ireland for the first time and this targeted promotional activity will be expanded this year, according to O'Kane.

"We want to make consumers in Northern Ireland aware of the benefits of using Dublin Airport for both business and leisure travel and to ensure that visitors to Northern Ireland are aware of the convenience of flying into Dublin," he said.

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