Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport declined by 78pc last year to 7.4m, the lowest figures to pass through the airport since 1994.
he Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) confirmed that more than half of all those who travelled through Dublin Airport in 2020 did so in January and February before the Covid-19 pandemic put international travel on ice.
Some 4.1m people passed through the airport in the first two months of 2020 while between March and the end of December, passenger numbers fell by 89pc to 3.3m.
Dublin Airport lost an estimated 25.5m passengers last year, which is the equivalent to the entire population of Australia. The last time it had fewer than 8m passengers in a calendar year was in 1994, 27 years ago.
Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport have fallen further since the end of last year, with January passenger numbers down by 90pc. Daily passenger traffic is currently down by up to 98pc compared to the same period in 2020, the DAA said.
Dublin Airport has played a vital role in the importation of PPE and other medical equipment, facilitating the arrival of 6.2m tonnes of equipment on 357 separate cargo flights, operated by 16 different airlines.
Passenger numbers to and from continental Europe declined by 77pc last year, while travel between Dublin Airport and Britain was 76pc lower at 2.4 million.
Transatlantic traffic from the capital’s airport declined by 84pc to just 690,000 passengers.
“Aviation was one of the sectors of the Irish economy that was hardest hit by Covid-19, and this is reflected in the passenger numbers for last year,” said Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison.
“It was a hugely challenging year for Dublin Airport and for the entire Irish aviation sector, as the reduction in air travel and the introduction of travel restrictions in most markets had a very significant impact on passenger numbers during the year.
“It has been a year like no other for Dublin Airport, for our airline customers, our commercial partners and our employees, and for the entire aviation and tourism sectors,” Mr Harrison said.
In 2019, Dublin Airport had flights to more than 190 destinations in 42 countries operated by almost 50 airlines. In April 2020, Dublin Airport had flights to just 22 destinations in 11 countries operated by seven airlines.
“Aviation plays a vital role in Ireland’s economy, and it will be a key sector in helping that economy to recover in the wake of the pandemic,” according to Mr Harrison.
Global air traffic fell by 60pc last year, bringing air travel totals back to 2003 levels, according to ICAO, the UN agency for civil aviation.
Data from Eurocontrol, which co-ordinates the management of air traffic across Europe, shows that flights to and from Ireland were among the most affected by the pandemic last year. Flights to and from Irish airports fell by 63pc in 2020, making Ireland the fifth worst affected country among the 41 member states within Eurocontrol.
Only Armenia, Moldova, Morocco, Israel, and Georgia had larger air traffic declines than Ireland.