More than half a million passengers from Northern Ireland are now using Dublin Airport, according to a statement issued by the airport authority.
And this number, which currently stands at 570,000, could well grow even more in the years ahead as the long-haul carriers expand their operations.
Many of these passengers are flying long-haul. The reasons are two-fold — Northern Irish passengers flying from Dublin are provided with a greater range of long-haul flights and, just as importantly, they avoid paying the UK’s Airline Passenger Duty (subscribers can read an APD feature from February 14).
For example, there are direct flights this summer from Dublin to 13 transatlantic destinations. Five of these are North American destinations that are served by more than one airline.
In the case of the Gulf and beyond, there are daily services by both Emirates of Dubai and Etihad of Abu Dhabi.
It is true that the Northern Irish Authority has subsantially reduced the rate of APD for some services from Belfast (the only airport with long-haul service). But this special low rate applies only to direct long-haul flights.
And at the present time there is just a single long-haul route from Belfast, namely a United flight to New York Newark. If Northern Irish passengers fly direct long-haul via London or a point in mainland Europe then they must pay the full rate of APD.
All told, Dublin Airport handled 20.2 million passengers in 2013, which represents an overall increase of 6 per cent. London Heathrow was the main destination for passengers, followed by Dubai.