Dublin Airport is operated by Dublin Airport Authority, plc and is the busiest aiport in Ireland. More than 18.4 million passengers travelled through the airport in 2005. This figure is predicted to grow to more than 21 million for 2006 .
The Dublin Airport is nearly four times as busy as the second busiest airport on the island of Ireland, Belfast International Airport which had just under 5 million passengers in 2005.
The Dublin Airport is located approximately 10 kilometres north of Dublin City in an area properly known as Collinstown. The airport is the headquarters of Ireland’s flag carrier Aer Lingus, and Europe’s largest no-frills airline Ryanair.
Dublin Airport has an extensive short and medium-haul route network: several domestic Irish routes, around thirty routes to the United Kingdom and a vast network of routes to Continental Europe. The Dublin-London international air corridor is the second busiest in the world (after Hong Kong-Taipei) with flights from Dublin to all five London airports — Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, and London City. Aer Lingus and several US and Canadian carriers provide services to many destinations in the United States and Canada. Dublin and Shannon (on the west coast of Ireland) are the only two European airports with US Border preclearance facilities which saves passengers a lot of time upon arrival in the United States. There are also non-stop flights to the Middle East.
Dublin Airport is the 5th fastest growing European airport, the 14th busiest airport in Europe, the 66th busiest airport in the world, and the 19th busiest in the world for international flights.
The terminal building, opened in 1941, was modelled on the bridge of a luxury liner and was awarded the Triennial Gold Medal of the Royal Hibernian Institute of Architects and is today a listed building. Services were severely curtailed at Dublin Airport due to WWII ; however, afterwards three new concrete runways were built and completed by 1947.
During the 1980s, major competition, especially on the Dublin-London routes, resulted in passenger numbers swelling to 5.1 million in 1989. In the same year a new 8,650-foot runway and a state-of-the-art air traffic control centre were opened. Dublin Airport continued to expand rapidly in the 1990s.
In 1993 a major milestone for the airport was the signing of a new United States- Republic of Ireland bilateral agreement which allowed airlines to operate some direct transatlantic services for the first time to/from Dublin Airport instead of touching down en route at Shannon Airport on the west coast of Ireland. Airlines still had to provide an equal number of flights either to or through Shannon as to Dublin.
A gradual further watering down of Shannon’s so-called ‘stopover’ status will come into effect in November 2006 when more direct flights to Dublin will be allowed, until the stopover requirement disappears completely in 2008. At that time, airlines will be allowed to fly direct to the US from Dublin without having to match these with any to/from Shannon. It is expected that this will result in a huge increase in services between Dublin and the US. Indeed Aer Lingus, which is currently in very aggressive mood regarding the expansion of its long-haul network, has identified 16 destinations that it would like to serve direct from Dublin.
This demand has been driven by a huge increase in business travel to and from the country, together with an increase in inward tourism, and a surge in demand for foreign holidays and city breaks from the Irish, who are now one of the wealthiest populations in the world.
In January 2006, the number of trips abroad taken by the Irish outnumbered the number of inbound trips for the first time since records began; media reports were common towards the end of 2005 of the Irish descending on New York in their droves for Christmas shopping weekends (although London is still the top destination from Dublin).
A further source of demand has been for flights to holiday homes and investment properties which have been snapped up by the property-hungry Irish across southern European holiday hotspots, the emerging economies of Eastern Europe, and beyond. And finally, the demand from Ireland’s migrant workers, principally those from Eastern Europe, has resulted in a large number of new routes opening to destinations in the EU accession states.
Due to the phenomenal growth experienced at Dublin Airport in recent years, the facility is chronically congested. ‘Catch-up’ has been a feature of how the authorities have been de aling with the growth in demand. One part or another of the airport has been a building site for the past two decades. Despite massive building works and extensions, it is widely accepted that the existing terminal building and infrastructure are insufficient to deal with the volume of passengers.
Both the Irish Government and the Dublin Airport Authority have come under pressure from airlines and passengers alike once-and-for-all to provide a re alistic increase in capacity for the future. As a result, a new pier (Pier D) is being added to the original terminal which will add significant additional airside capacity, providing gate lounges to serve 14 aircraft stands. This pier will be operational on 28 October 2007. Terminal 2 is to be built and operational by 2009, as will a new pier (Pier E) to Terminal 2.
Dublin Airport is located just off the M1 Motorway approximately 10 km north from the city centre and 2 km south of the town of Swords. With no rail link, the main transport options to the city are taxi or buses.