Both Dublin and Cork experienced the lowest passenger numbers since 1994
The operator of Dublin and Cork airports, daa, recorded a loss of €284m (£246m) last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Passenger numbers at both hubs declined by 78% (7.9 million) in 2020, compared with 35.5 million the previous year. During the lockdown periods, retail outlets and operators in Ireland closed.
In the first quarter of this year, the numbers of customers passing through Dublin and Cork fell by 92% compared to 2020.
Dalton Phillips, chief executive at daa, said that Irish hubs in particular have been “most negatively affected” by the pandemic over the past year.
“As vaccination levels increase, both at home and in many of our key overseas travel markets, Ireland must develop a roadmap for exiting mandatory hotel quarantine and for easing the blanket restrictions on overseas travel,” he explained.
Due to experiencing such dramatic losses last year, daa acted to reduce costs. Operating expenses were cut by 42% - dropping further to 58% between June and December. Certain projects were also suspended, and capital programmes were reviewed.
Other measures to save money included a pay and hiring freeze, meaning employees experienced a salary decrease between 20% and 45%. Almost 1,000 Irish-based staff left the business – around one-third of the group’s overall workforce.
Commenting on the industry losses, Phillips said, “Our focus was on doing what was right for the long-term health of the business and as far as possible we worked in partnership with our people both at home and abroad.”
Passenger numbers fell at Dublin Airport for the first time in a decade. More than half of the 7.4 million who passed through the facility did so in January and February of last year. At Cork, the same figures declined for the first time in six years. An 80% decline hit the hub last year, reaching the same levels seen in 1988.
Phillips highlights that “government engagement” is vital regarding the restart of international travel, after the firm submitted a plan for the recovery of the sector in Ireland.
Both airports have remained open throughout the pandemic, with Dublin playing a vital role in Ireland’s global supply chain. More than 6.2 tonnes of PPE and medical supplies were transported through the site.