DAA (Dublin Airport Authority) is to introduce discount schemes at its airports in Dublin and Cork to “kickstart air travel for next summer”.

The schemes will provide discounts to airlines to give them “a higher level of confidence to commit capacity to Ireland” and encourage them to resume services that have been curtailed or cancelled due to Covid-19.

The proposed incentive scheme hopes to stimulate growth between March 28, 2021 – the official start of aviation’s summer season – and March 26, 2022. The discounts will be decided based on the performance of each airline and “are not dependent on overall traffic growth at Dublin airport” during this period.

If an airline carries over 50 per cent of the number of passengers it had at Dublin airport during the same three-month period in 2019-2020, then the airport charges for those extra passengers will be reduced by half. If the carrier reaches the 70 per cent mark, then all passengers above that level will be free.

Dublin airport has seen a decline in passenger numbers of 77 per cent compared with last year, and has lost a total of 24.4 million passengers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, traffic at Cork has reduced by 79 per cent, and the airport has lost almost two million passengers.

DAA said it would provide information regarding the schemes at Cork airport shortly.

CEO Dalton Philips commented:

“Irish aviation has been decimated by the impact of Covid-19, and it is essential for the Irish economy that we rebuild lost connectivity as quickly as possible.

“DAA is stepping up and taking the lead to help rebuild this vital sector and we’ll work closely with our airline customers and other stakeholders to stimulate growth.

“Ireland is one of the most open economies in the world and has a huge dependency on trade, tourism, exports and foreign direct investment. The vast majority of Ireland’s economic activity needs air connectivity, and these discount schemes will help restore vital air routes.”

“We recognise that airlines are making decisions now about where to place their aircraft for next summer, and that many of our customers have smaller fleets than they had last year.

“Dublin Airport was already a hugely attractive location from a cost perspective – as its charges were reduced by 40 per cent between 2016 and 2020. However, despite being the lowest cost airport in our peer group, we recognise that there are hugely challenging market conditions for our customers, and we want to help them return to growth.

“This proposed discount scheme shares the risk between Dublin Airport and its airline customers by encouraging growth and offering heavily discounted or free charges when specific passenger targets are met.”

Dublin airport was ranked the eighth largest airport in the European Union in 2019, and welcomed a record 32.9 million passengers last year.

The airport recently set up two Covid-19 testing facilities for both passengers and the general public.