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Air and Sea Travel Statistics

May 2020

DirectionMay January-May
20192020Change 20192020Change
Arrivals1,818.928.3-1,790.6-98.4% 7,398.23,129.5-4,268.6-57.7%
Departures1,851.636.3-1,815.2-98.0% 7,427.23,099.4-4,327.9-58.3%

Overseas arrivals fall 98.4% in May 2020

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May 2020 saw an extraordinary collapse in overseas travel to and from Ireland as the effects of the COVID-19 crisis continued. There were just 28,300 arrivals in May 2020 and 36,300 departures. This compares with monthly travel of more than 1.8 million in each direction in May 2019, an annual fall of 98% (See Table 1).

Of the 28,300 persons arriving in Ireland, 19,900 (70.3%) arrived by air and 8,400 (29.7%) arrived by sea. Of the 36,300 persons departing Ireland, 24,700 (68.0%) departed by air and 11,600 (32.0%) departed by sea (See Table 1).

Of those arriving in Ireland in May 2020, 16,400 (58.0%) came by cross-channel routes, 8,200 (29.0%) by continental routes, 1,700 (6.0%) by transatlantic routes and 2,000 (7.1%) by other overseas routes. The corresponding figures for those departing Ireland were 18,700 (51.5%), 14,600 (40.2%), 1,700 (4.7%) and 1,300 (3.6%) respectively (See Table 1).

The most important staging countries for persons travelling overseas to Ireland were Great Britain (16,400), the Netherlands (2,700) and the United States (1,700). The most important staging countries for persons travelling overseas from Ireland were Great Britain (18,700), the Netherlands (4,100) and France (3,400). (See Table 1).

For the year-to-date (January-May), 3,129,500 persons arrived in Ireland from overseas and 3,099,400 persons departed. These represent decreases of 57.7% and 58.3% respectively compared to the same period in 2019 (See Table 2).

The collection of Tourism Statistics at air and sea ports was suspended in March 2020, to protect CSO enumerators and the travelling public. As a result, the details of travel to Ireland classified by country of residence, which are presented in the monthly Overseas Travel release, are not currently being collected and that release has been temporarily suspended. To help fill the data gap, the CSO is publishing this new Air and Sea Travel Statistics release which reports on the numbers of overseas travellers arriving and departing Ireland classified by travel route. The information is compiled primarily from statistics provided by the DAA, together with data from other air and sea ports. The CSO intends to continue publishing this Air and Sea Travel Statistics release for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis.


Table 1: Overseas arrivals and departures by mode and route, May 2019 and 2020000's
Arrivals Departures
20192020Change 20192020Change
Air1,712.019.9-1,692.2-98.8% 1,744.024.7-1,719.3-98.6%
Sea106.88.4-98.4-92.2% 107.511.6-95.9-89.2%
Great Britain666.716.4-650.4-97.5% 649.618.7-630.9-97.1%
Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey3.20.0-3.2-100.0% 4.00.0-4.0-100.0%
Cross-Channel669.916.4-653.6-97.6% 653.518.7-634.8-97.1%
Belgium21.10.3-20.8-98.6% 21.40.7-20.7-96.8%
Germany113.41.4-112.0-98.7% 114.52.1-112.5-98.2%
Spain215.40.1-215.3-100.0% 237.60.4-237.1-99.8%
France107.41.4-106.0-98.7% 122.93.4-119.5-97.2%
Italy70.40.0-70.4-100.0% 78.90.4-78.6-99.6%
Netherlands62.32.7-59.6-95.7% 65.04.1-60.9-93.7%
Poland44.20.1-44.1-99.8% 45.00.1-44.9-99.7%
Portugal75.00.7-74.3-99.1% 83.11.1-82.0-98.7%
Other EU27120.01.2-118.8-99.0% 131.21.7-129.6-98.7%
EU27 Total829.27.9-821.4-99.1% 899.613.9-885.8-98.5%
Switzerland22.10.0-22.1-100.0% 22.10.0-22.1-99.9%
Other Europe20.20.3-19.9-98.4% 20.50.7-19.8-96.7%
Continental871.58.2-863.4-99.1% 942.214.6-927.6-98.5%
United States199.11.7-197.4-99.2% 181.31.7-179.6-99.1%
Other Transatlantic26.60.0-26.6-99.9% 26.70.0-26.7-100.0%
Transatlantic225.71.7-224.0-99.2% 208.01.7-206.3-99.2%
United Arab Emirates24.30.1-24.2-99.7% 19.70.0-19.7-100.0%
Other Destinations27.41.9-25.5-93.0% 28.11.3-26.8-95.4%
Other Routes51.72.0-49.7-96.1% 47.81.3-46.5-97.3%
All1,818.928.3-1,790.6-98.4% 1,851.636.3-1,815.2-98.0%
Table 2: Overseas arrivals and departures by mode and route, January-May 2019 and 2020000's
    January - May   
 Arrivals Departures
20192020Change 20192020Change
Air7,026.43,002.5-4,023.9-57.3% 7,050.42,958.6-4,091.8-58.0%
Sea371.8127.0-244.7-65.8% 376.9140.7-236.1-62.7%
Great Britain2,957.21,329.4-1,627.9-55.0% 2,977.71,359.6-1,618.1-54.3%
Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey10.53.6-6.9-65.9% 11.63.9-7.7-66.3%
Cross-Channel2,967.71,332.9-1,634.8-55.1% 2,989.31,363.5-1,625.8-54.4%
Belgium105.847.7-58.1-54.9% 104.848.0-56.8-54.2%
Germany498.8190.7-308.0-61.8% 487.1190.7-296.5-60.9%
Spain777.2297.3-479.9-61.7% 800.4266.7-533.7-66.7%
France437.3165.6-271.7-62.1% 441.9165.8-276.1-62.5%
Italy268.796.6-172.1-64.0% 276.091.5-184.4-66.8%
Netherlands300.2145.2-155.1-51.6% 300.8145.9-154.9-51.5%
Poland207.5110.2-97.3-46.9% 203.6104.3-99.3-48.8%
Portugal204.870.8-134.0-65.4% 217.964.7-153.2-70.3%
Other EU27485.4220.4-265.0-54.6% 497.3216.1-281.2-56.6%
EU27 Total3,285.71,344.5-1,941.2-59.1% 3,329.71,293.7-2,036.0-61.1%
Switzerland99.044.2-54.8-55.3% 96.544.2-52.3-54.2%
Other Europe85.835.7-50.1-58.4% 82.834.2-48.7-58.7%
Continental3,470.61,424.4-2,046.1-59.0% 3,509.11,372.1-2,137.0-60.9%
United States653.9230.7-423.2-64.7% 637.3232.7-404.6-63.5%
Other Transatlantic68.920.5-48.4-70.3% 68.822.6-46.3-67.2%
Transatlantic722.7251.1-471.6-65.3% 706.1255.3-450.8-63.8%
United Arab Emirates126.772.2-54.5-43.0% 115.466.4-49.0-42.5%
Other Destinations110.548.9-61.6-55.7% 107.342.1-65.2-60.8%
Other Routes237.1121.0-116.1-49.0% 222.7108.5-114.2-51.3%
All7,398.23,129.5-4,268.6-57.7% 7,427.23,099.4-4,327.9-58.3%

Background Notes




Overseas Travel.


This release covers overseas travel into and out of the Republic of Ireland. Cross-border travel and domestic travel within the Republic of Ireland are excluded.

Data Collection

This release is based on administrative data provided by Irish airports and passenger data provided by the sea carrier companies operating ferries to and from Ireland.


Individual figures have been rounded independently and the sum of the component items may therefore not necessarily add to the totals shown.

Reliability of Results 

As the statistics in this release are reproduced directly from administrative data they are considered reliable.


As the statistics in this release are persons arriving and departing, they are not directly comparable with the previous Overseas Travel release, which reported the number of overseas trips. In addition, the previous Overseas Travel series specifically excluded residents of Northern Ireland. No country of residence information is available for the compilation of these Air and Sea Travel statistics, so all countries of residence are necessarily included.


The statistics in this release are not fully coherent with separate Transport aviation and maritime statistical series published by the CSO. The Air and Sea Travel statistics exclude domestic air travel and flights to Northern Ireland. The Air and Sea Travel statistics also exclude commercial drivers on sea routes.


(1) Arrivals

Arrivals comprise all persons disembarking at Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Knock, Shannon or Waterford airports, or Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Ringaskiddy or Rosslare seaports, from international destinations (excluding Northern Ireland). Transfer passengers are included. Domestic air passengers are excluded. Cruise passengers are excluded.

(2) Departures

Departures have the same scope as arrivals except than they refer to persons embarking for international destinations.

(3) Mode

Mode is the means of travel. Only two modes are available; air and sea. Air refers to all persons who arrive or depart by commercial airliners (crew excluded). Sea refers to all persons who arrive or depart by commercial passenger vessels (crew and commercial drivers excluded).

(4) Route

For convenience, all persons arriving or departing overseas are allocated to one of four entry or exit routes. These are Cross-Channel (Great Britain, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands), Continental (other European countries), Transatlantic (North & South America, including the Caribbean) and Other (Asia, Africa, Oceania, etc.).

(5) Country

All routes are broken down into separate countries and country groupings. It is important to note that these are the countries that arriving persons immediately departed from before entering Ireland, or departing persons immediately arrive in, after leaving Ireland. They do not refer to the country of residence of arriving or departing persons (unlike previous Overseas Travel releases, where this information was published). Nor do they refer to the country of origin or destination of the persons travelling. For example, if a person flies from John F Kennedy airport (United States) to Heathrow (Great Britain) and then to Ireland, that person will be categorised as arriving from Great Britain, as this was where their flight stage to Ireland originated.

(6) Transfer Passengers

Transfer passengers or 'connecting passengers' are defined as those who make a stop at an airport without any particular purpose other than being en route to another destination.  Transfer passengers disembark from their aircraft and pass through the airport en route to their connecting flight.  The two flights must be booked on the same ticket for it to be considered a transfer. A transfer trip is a completed journey – for example a passenger who travels from London Gatwick to Dublin Airport and then on to New York (on the one ticket) is counted as two transfer passengers and one transfer trip.

Dublin Transfer Passengers (000's)

Month 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

Jan 20 28 31 35 55 79 88 108 111
Feb 15 19 18 22 33 59 67 76 79
Mar 18 20 25 30 51 85 94 126 53
Apr 31 38 57 66 86 130 157 171   0 
May 39 54 75 89 105 144 161 179   1 
Jun 51 72 96 110 119 157 185 186  
Jul 43 66 96 127 121 158 199 195  
Aug 47 82 109 142 139 194 229 223  
Sep 34 50 78 102 124 158 191 194  
Oct 33 46 72 91 142 160 187 186  
Nov 34 33 42 61 84 118 136 141  
Dec 37 41 51 74 107 128 155 155  
Year 402 548 749 949 1,167 1,569 1,850 1,939  

Source: daa

In May 2020 there were 1,000 transfer passengers handled by Dublin Airport. This compares to 179,000 in May 2019, a decrease of 99.4%.

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