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E-mail: Noreen Dorgan +353 21 453 5260 Dr Nele van der Wielen +353 21 453 5379
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This release was compiled during the COVID-19 pandemic. For further information see Press Statement Aviation Statistics Quarter 1 2021.

CSO statistical release, , 11am

Aviation Statistics

Quarter 1 2021

Number of passengers handled by main Irish airports, Quarter 1 2019-2021
 Q1 2019Q1 2020Q1 2021% change Q1 2020-2021
Total passengers7,435,6735,916,477418,954-92.9

Drop of 93% in number of passengers handled by main Irish airports in Quarter 1 2021

Figure 1: Passenger numbers handled by main Irish airports, Quarter 1 2019 - 2021
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In the first quarter of 2021, almost 419,000 passengers passed through the five main Irish airports, a drop of 92.9% when compared with the same period in 2020 and down by 94.4% compared with Q1 2019.  Passenger numbers dropped in all five airports. This decrease was impacted by travel restrictions imposed due to COVID-19. See tables 1A and 1B.

Dublin airport accounted for 96.7% of all air passengers handled in the first quarter of 2021.

The results also show that:

  • Slightly over 9,000 flights were handled by Ireland's five main airports in the first quarter of 2021. Dublin accounted for 88.3% of all flights (7,949) while Shannon handled 6.1% of all flights (545). See tables 3A and 3B.
  • Amsterdam-Schiphol, London-Heathrow and Paris-Charles de Gaulle were the most popular routes for passengers travelling through Dublin airport in the first quarter of 2021. See table 4.
  • In the first quarter of 2021, almost nine out of every ten passengers (87.3%) on international flights in the five main 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 the first quarter of 2021. See table 5.
  • Ireland's main airports handled a total of 38,347 tonnes of freight in the first quarter of 2021, the vast majority (88.4%) of which was international freight. See table 6.
  • When seasonally adjusted, there was a decrease in the number of passengers (-37.0%) that passed through the main airports in Quarter 1 of 2021 compared with Quarter 4 of 2020. See table 8.
X-axis label201920202021
Table 1A: Number of passengers handled by main airports, Quarter 1 2019-2021
AirportQ1 2019Q1 2020Q1 2021% change Q1 2020-2021
Total passengers7,435,6735,916,477418,954-92.9
Table 1B: Number of passengers classified by month handled by main airports
2019  20202021% change 2020-2021
AirportJanFebMar JanFebMar JanFebMar JanFebMar
Knock42,41345,45654,70040,27245,26322,436619- 0- 0-98.5-100.0-100.0
Total 2,353,9912,293,9912,787,691 2,388,3772,344,5261,183,574 206,86898,127113,959 -91.3-95.8-90.4
Table 2: Passenger numbers classified by arrivals and departures handled by main airports
AirportQ1 2019Q1 2020Q1 2021
Total arrivals3,735,4042,982,775208,951
Total departures3,700,2692,933,702210,003
Total passengers7,435,6735,916,477418,954
Table 3A: Number of flights classified by arrivals and departures handled by main airports, Quarter 1 2021
All flights1477,94936155459,007
Table 3B: Number of flights classified by month handled by main airports
 2020 2021 % change 2020-2021
AirportJanFebMarQ1 JanFebMarQ1 JanFebMarQ1
Cork1,3871,3401,1843,911 672456147 -95.2-98.2-95.3-96.2
Dublin15,96515,22812,32043,513 3,2972,1882,4647,949 -79.3-85.6-80.0-81.7
Kerry256239227722 125112124361 -51.2-53.1-45.4-50.0
Knock3823702641,016 5- 0- 05 -98.7-100.0-100.0-99.5
Shannon8087766612,245 169163213545 -79.1-79.0-67.8-75.7
Total 18,79817,95314,65651,407 3,6632,4872,8579,007 -80.5-86.1-80.5-82.5
Table 4: Top 10 arrivals and departures for Dublin airport by number of passengers, Quarter 1 2021
Amsterdam - Schiphol 18,74317,56236,305
London - Heathrow12,23117,83330,064
Paris - Charles De Gaulle13,18211,13524,317
London - Stansted6,8957,91614,811
Madrid - Barajas7,9615,81813,779
Table 5: Number of passengers classified by country of flight stage origin and destination handled by main airports, Quarter 1 2021
 UK - England29,14244,45373,595
 UK - Northern Ireland000
 UK - Scotland2,6714,3006,971
 UK - Wales453442895
 UK - Other448
 Total UK32,27049,19981,469
 Other 6,4214,86011,281
 Total Europe181,031180,117361,148
North AmericaCanada9541,5382,492
Total North America9,81613,45723,273
AfricaTotal Africa1360136
AsiaUnited Arab Emirates9,7748,79718,571
Total Asia14,37012,90427,274
Other1Total other9571,1092,066
All continents2 206,310207,587413,897
1 Due to residual coding errors some passengers cannot be assigned a country of flight origin/destination.
2 This figure refers to passengers on international flights only and excludes passengers on domestic flights.
Table 6: Air freight classified by national and international traffic handled by main airports, Quarter 1 2021
National freight traffic02,654-1,8114,465
International freight traffic431,68002,19833,882
All freight434,33404,00938,347
Table 7: Air freight classified by arrivals and departures handled by main airports, Quarter 1 2021
Arrivals - freight418,28302,16720,454
Departures - freight016,05101,84117,892
All freight434,33404,00938,347
Table 8: Seasonally adjusted number of passengers handled by main airports
AirportQ1 2020Q4 2020Q1 2021% change Q4 2020-Q1 2021
Total passengers7,676,279840,488529,556-37.0

Background Notes


Statistics on Aviation are collected under Statutory Instrument (S.I.) No. 10 of 2020 - Statistics (carriage of passengers, freight and mail by air) Order 2020.

The data in this release provides details on the number of passengers classified by arrivals and departures, and by reference to national and international traffic; the number of flights by arrivals and departures and information on air freight and mail (in tonnes).  The release also highlights the top routes for each of the five main airports: Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Knock and Kerry. In 2020, the top five airports represented 99.6% of all air passengers.

Data sources

Aviation statistics are compiled from data supplied by all Irish airports. The following Irish airports provide data to the Central Statistics Office: Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Kerry, Knock, Waterford, Connemara, Donegal and Inishmore. Galway and Sligo airports ceased operations in 2011. There have been no commercial flights in Waterford Airport since June 2016. Data for the five main airports is supplied on a monthly basis. Data for regional airports is supplied annually to the Central Statistics Office.


The statistics in this release are not fully coherent with the Air and Sea Travel statistics. The differences in passenger numbers which are typically less than 0.5%, arise because the Air and Sea Travel statistics exclude transit passengers, domestic air travel and flights to Northern Ireland. It should be noted that passenger numbers for Shannon and Dublin airports exclude transit passengers on technical transit flights as these are fuel stop only flights.

Seasonal adjustment

Seasonal adjustment for passenger numbers is conducted using a direct seasonal adjustment approach. However, the overall passenger totals are estimated using the indirect approach, i.e. the ‘Total passengers’ is derived by adding the monthly seasonally adjusted passenger numbers for each airport. The main reason for adopting the indirect approach is to attribute the monthly and annual changes in passenger numbers to each airport. Seasonal adjustment models are developed for each airport based on unadjusted data spanning from January 2012 to the current period. These models are reviewed on an annual basis; however seasonal factors are updated each quarter.

The adjustments are completed by applying the X-13-ARIMA model, developed by the U.S. Census Bureau to the unadjusted data.  This methodology estimates seasonal factors while also taking into consideration factors that impact on the quality of the seasonal adjustment such as:

• Calendar effects, e.g. the timing of Easter,

• Outliers, temporary changes and level shifts in the series. 

Seasonally adjusting the Aviation data series during the COVID-19 crisis period will be challenging until the scale and shape of its impact on the time series is better understood. The initial seasonally adjusted results might be revised for some months ahead as future observations become available. Users should be aware that there is increased uncertainty around the seasonally adjusted figures during this period. 

For additional information on the use of X-13-ARIMA see


Main airport: A main airport is defined as an airport through which in excess of 150,000 passengers fly per annum. The five main airports in Ireland are Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Knock and Kerry.

Regional airport: A regional airport is defined as an airport through which less than 150,000 passengers fly per annum. The three regional airports in Ireland are Donegal, Connemara and Inishmore.

Scheduled flight: The term 'scheduled' in this release, refers to a commercial air service operated according to a published timetable, or with such a regular frequency that it constitutes an easily recognisable systematic series of flights.

Non-scheduled flight: The term 'non-scheduled' in this release, refers to a commercial air service other than scheduled air service e.g. chartered or private aircraft flights.

Direct transit passengers: These are passengers who, following a short stop, continue their journey on the same aircraft with the same flight number as the flight on which they arrived. These passengers are en route to another destination and generally do not disembark from their aircraft.

Transfer passengers: Transfer passengers or ‘connecting passengers’ are defined as passengers who make a stop at an airport without any purpose other than to board another aircraft to reach another destination. Unlike transit passengers, transfer passengers disembark the aircraft and pass through the airport en route to their connecting flight.

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