While much of the new long-haul activity at Dublin airport has focused on North America, perhaps its most striking recent route announcement is the landing of its first direct Asian service when Cathay Pacific begins Hong Kong flights next summer.

The Oneworld carrier will begin a four-times-weekly service in June using A350-900s. Speaking at World Routes in Barcelona, Dublin airport managing director Vincent Harrison said he believed this would be the first of many such routes.

"Those routes are a matter of time," says Harrison. "The [new] runway we are developing will bring increased length, so we can bring bigger capacity into areas of Southeast Asia.

"We see a lot of increased business. You just have to tap into a small amount of the leisure market."

The first Asian service follows continued strength on transatlantic routes. The airport handled almost three million passengers on transatlantic routes last year – and has continued to add new services – most recently Aer Lingus, begun a Miami link earlier this month. That came hot on the heels of Norwegian's launch of flights to Stewart International and Providence this summer using its new Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

"I think we have been at the forefront of that development," says Harrison, noting that WestJet made its long-haul debut to the airport. "We'd expect that to continue, because some of the secondary points in America – that would have good business, but hadn't maybe been able to sustain the widebody. But as the narrowbody aircraft are coming on stream, we'll see more of that."

Passenger traffic at the airport passed the 20 million mark at the start of the month, 6% up on the same stage last year.

Source: Cirium Dashboard