Dublin Airport reaching for the Sky



“Dublin Airport had a record-breaking year in 2017,” states Vincent Harrison, Managing Director of Dublin Airport. In this exclusive interview, he explains how DAA continue to successfully reach for the skies and how Hong Kong and Beijing are future grow markets.

“Last year, we had 29.6 million passengers travelling through the airport. Its success can be attributed to the excellent direct connections with flights to 195 destinations in 42 countries, operated by 56 airlines,” says Vincent.

“Last year was Dublin Airport’s seventh consecutive year of growth since passenger numbers started to increase at a modest level in 2011 following the recession,” he says.

“We have welcomed more than 11 million extra passengers, 113 new routes and services and 22 new airlines during that time. This year, Dublin Airport has welcomed 14 new routes and services and four new airlines so further growth is expected.”

Vincent has held his position of Managing Director of the airport, since December 2013. Dublin Airport’s passenger growth has helped create almost 20,000 new jobs in the Irish economy over the past four years.

“Dublin Airport is Ireland’s largest airport, handling almost 30 million passengers last year. Passenger numbers at Dublin have increased by about 50% over the past five years and it is now the 11th largest airport in the European Union,” states Vincent.


 “After many years of negotiations and working closely with Irish and Chinese government agencies, it was an absolute pleasure to welcome Cathay Pacific’s new direct service to Hong Kong and Hainan Airlines’ new direct route to Beijing; both airlines marking significant milestones at Dublin Airport,” he states.

“The potential grow traffic between Ireland and China is huge, with about 120,000 passengers travelling between Ireland and mainland China last year; with journeys to and from Beijing accounting for more than a quarter of those trips.

“Last year, an estimated 70,000 Chinese visitors came to the island of Ireland and we expect to grow this number significantly with these two new routes.”

Vincent continues: “Trade between Ireland and China is worth more than €8 billion per annum and almost 100 Irish firms have operations in China, employing a total of 100,000 people there. There is an estimated 4,000 Irish people living in Hong Kong and about 40,000 people per year travelling between our two cities.”


“Our transatlantic connections are hugely important for Ireland, for Irish business, for foreign direct investment and tourism,” says Vincent. “Transatlantic passenger numbers were up 20% over 2016 and this is due to new direct markets for Dublin and Ireland, such as Philadelphia, Miami and Seattle so the overall market is expanding.”

The busy traffic is helped by the US CBP pre-clearance at Dublin Airport. “This is a big attraction in flying from Dublin Airport to the US,” continues Vincent. “This facility makes for an easier trip for passengers as all the necessary immigration and customs checks are carried out at Dublin Airport before the flight leaves. The only queue passengers have on arriving in the US is the taxi queue to their final destination.”

Delta to Boston–Pittsburgh has grown 50% in the last three years. Delta Air Lines is the longest serving US carrier at Dublin Airport and it recently marked 30 years flying between the US and Dublin.  The airline started off flying to Atlanta, then added New York JFK and Boston to its flight schedule.  The airline has carried almost five million passengers during those three decades.

 United Airlines recently marked 20 years flying between Dublin and the US. United Airlines has carried a total of 3.5 million passengers on its three routes – Newark, Chicago and Washington – from Dublin Airport during those 20 years.

“Transatlantic traffic was up 20% at Dublin Airport in 2017. One million extra passengers have travelled on transatlantic routes from Dublin Airport in the past two years,” states Vincent.

The skies across the Atlantic are particularly busy during the summer. “During our peak summer weeks, we see 10 airlines flying 446 flights per week to and from 16 destinations in the US and four destinations in Canada,” he adds. “This is an average of 64 flights daily to and from North America.”

Vincent admits that their transatlantic growth is being underpinned by hub traffic. “We have 1.8 million passengers who are not coming to Ireland at all, we are a gateway,” he adds, stating that the transatlantic market is strong for both business and leisure in both directions.

“About 700 Irish firms export to the US, so strong air connections between Ireland and the U.S. is critical for business between our two countries.”



Last year, the airport added two new services to Providence and to Stewart (upstate New York).  “We are always very happy to see our airline customers grow its route networks from Dublin Airport and provide competition to airlines flying similar routes,” says Vincent.


“Secondary, smaller airports open up air travel to a wider range of people, making it more convenient for business and visits from family and friends.”


He adds: “New routes and services stimulate competition among other airline customers, which brings further benefits to the airport and for passengers. We will continue to work closely with our airline customers to further expand routes and services,” he said.


  • There’s approximately €387 billion US investment in Ireland – higher than its combined investment in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
  • 155,000 people work for 700 US firms in Ireland and about 400 Irish firms employ 100,000 people at US businesses in approx. 2,600 locations in all 50 states.
  • In total, more than 30 million passengers used Dublin and Cork airports during 2016. The combination of their airports, airport management contracts, retail outlets and investments mean that DAA Group provides services to more than 135 million passengers per year in 11 countries across Europe, the Middle East, North America, India and Australasia.
  • Over 15 million passengers travelled to/from Continental Europe.
  • Over 10 million passengers travelled to/from UK destinations in 2017.
  • Dublin Airport’s annual value to the Irish economy increased from €6.9 billion per year to €8.3 billion per year, as passenger numbers grew by 38% over the past four years, according to the study by economic consultants InterVISTAS.
  • Dublin Airport was the fastest growing major European airport in 2016, when it handled nearly 28 million passengers.
  • Dublin Airport has experienced 50 consecutive months of growth. This growth has been driven by increasing passenger numbers and the launch of 14 new routes, including direct routes to China.