2021 has proven to be another tough year at Ireland West Airport as the impact of COVID-19 continues to have a devastating impact on passenger numbers. Last year just 175,000 passengers passed through the airport, the second consecutive year where annual passenger numbers have fallen below 200,000, following passenger numbers of just 143,000 in 2020.
When compared to pre pandemic levels, passenger numbers in 2021 declined by 79% compared to the record high of 807,000 passengers in 2019.
142,000 passengers travelled through the airport on services to and from the UK in 2021 compared to a record 671,000 in 2019 whilst just 31,000 passengers travelled to mainland and continental European destinations last year compared to 134,000 which used these services in 2019.
Despite the ongoing uncertainty over the Brexit situation, the growth in passenger numbers in 2019 was further fuelled by a very strong performance across the range of UK services available at the airport, with numbers travelling to and from the UK increasing by 2% in 2019. In addition Ryanair recorded its busiest ever year for passenger numbers at Ireland West Airport carrying a total of 622k passengers last year.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, investment continued in the Airport Transformation Programme, with a number of infrastructural projects commencing during the course of 2021, aimed at continuing to improve the facilities and modernise the airport to ensure the facility will meet the future needs of both our airline customers and passengers. Projects which commended in 2021 included:
- Critical airport runway end safety upgrade works
- Design and construction of a new arrivals hall passenger exit facility
- Major upgrade of the airports electrical infrastructure
- Feasibility study completed for the design and construction of a new fire training ground and facility at the airport
- Feasibility study for the expansion of the aircraft parking area (apron)
- Sustainability Master Plan to support the airports sustainability and environmental strategy
2021 brought some further positive news with the announcement by Ryanair of three new destinations as the airline commenced new services to both Edinburgh and Manchester in September and announced in December the launch of a new service to Birmingham, which will commence in March 2022.The airport were also delighted to welcome back Aer Lingus to the airport in December, following an absence of over 20 months.
Commenting on the 2021 performance, Arthur French, Chairman, Ireland West Airport said: “The continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the airports business is evident as we experienced another year of very low passenger numbers in 2020, with numbers declining to levels last seen in the 1990’s. As we look ahead to 2022 the year ahead will present many challenges due to the pandemic but we can look forward with optimism following the recent positive route announcements by Ryanair and also the return to the airport of Aer Lingus. Furthermore, we welcome the very positive news by Government of new travel rules, which remove the requirement for vaccinated passengers to produce a negative Covid-19 test on arrival into Ireland, which will provide confidence and reassurance for people looking to book short breaks and holidays in 2022. We remain confident that with the support of our loyal customer base, Local Authority partners, stakeholders and Government, the airport will hopefully enjoy a much stronger year this year’.