Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport declined by 78% in 2020 due to Covid-19, the airport has said.
About 7.4 million people travelled through Dublin Airport in 2020, with more than half of them doing so in January and February.
The airport lost 25.5 million passengers last year – the last time it had fewer than eight million passengers in a calendar year was back in 1994.
Passenger numbers fell by 89% to three million between March and December.
Those numbers have fallen further since the end of last year, as passenger numbers in January were down by 90%.
Dublin Airport’s managing director Vincent Harrison said it had been a „hugely challenging year“ for the airport and Ireland’s aviation sector.
The figures have emerged as Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Micheál Martin indicated that level 5 lockdown restrictions, which are the highest level of restrictions for the Republic of Ireland, could remain in place until the end of April.
On Wednesday, it was announced that anyone travelling to the Republic of Ireland from coronavirus hotspots will have to quarantine in hotels under new legislation.
It would mean first-time offenders could be fined £3,475 (€4,000) and face a month in prison for not adhering to the rules.
‘Significant impact’ of travel restrictions
It is the latest in a number of measures that have been introduced by the Irish government to curb travel during the pandemic.
Earlier this month, Northern Irish residents were told that they could face a fine of €100 (£88) if they were caught crossing the border without a „reasonable excuse“.
Any adult who is detected travelling to an Irish airport or port for a non-essential trip or holiday abroad currently faces a €500 fine while, back in December 2020, the Republic of Ireland banned UK arrivals because of concerns about the spread of a new variant of coronavirus.
On Friday, a further 28 coronavirus-related deaths and 763 new cases were recorded in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the country’s total number of deaths to 4,109.
At the moment, daily passenger traffic in Dublin Airport is currently down by up to 98% compared to the same period in 2020.
The airport’s managing director Vincent Harrison said aviation was one of the sectors of the Irish economy that was hardest hit by the pandemic and this is reflected in the passenger numbers for the previous year.
He added that the „reduction in air travel and the introduction of travel restrictions in most markets had a very significant impact on passenger numbers during the year“.
Back in 2019 the airport had flights to more than 190 destinations in 42 different countries operated by nearly 50 airlines.
However, in April 2020, it had flights to just 22 destinations in 11 countries operated by just seven airlines.
Mr Harrison said that aviation plays a huge role in Ireland’s economy and that it will be a „key sector in helping that economy to recover in the wake of the pandemic“.
Dublin Airport operated as an essential service throughout 2020, under the Irish government’s guidelines.
It played a role in the importation of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical equipment.