Ireland will handle recording-breaking 1.1 million flights this year

The IAA say air fares are likely to come down further in 2017

Ireland will handle recording-breaking 1.1 million flights this year

Aer Lingus and Ryanair aircraft at Dublin Airport | Image: RollingNews.ie

It has been another busy year at Irish airports, but the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has confirmed that 2016 will be a record-breaker.

It forecasts it will handle over 1.1 million flights in Irish controlled airspace and at the three State airports.

By the end of November, total flights handled by the IAA in 2016 stood at 1,026,000. That is up 8.6% on the same 11 months in 2015.

This includes an 8% increase in overflight traffic movements to 315,698 - these are flights which do not land in Ireland.

There has also been an 8% increase in North Atlantic communications flights - flights between Europe and the US - to 440,761.

And there has been a 10.5% increase in terminal movements - which are flights at Dublin, Cork and Shannon - to 269,431.

However the IAA also says that 2017 will be a challenging year for the industry.

It says significant increases expected in available seat capacity will likely drive down air fares in Europe.

Eamonn Brennan, chief executive of the IAA, said: "Altogether, air traffic has expanded by nearly 9% this year, driven by very strong lifts at both Dublin Airport and through Irish airspace on flights between Europe and North America.

"What's encouraging about 2016 is the fact that the growth is across all fields and not limited to one area.

"Cork and Shannon have both recorded gains in 2016, up 12% and 2.4% respectively."

Reflecting on the key developments, he added: "There's no doubting it, the continued growth of Ryanair is phenomenal - they'll carry over 119 million passengers in 2016.

"At the same time, Aer Lingus have really capitalised on being part of the IAG group with a significant expansion of their Transatlantic operation.

"We've seen Dublin Airport going from strength to strength so the announcement to build the new parallel runway was a very important milestone and the recent positive decision by the US government concerning Norwegian Air International is great news for both Cork and Shannon airports."