On 17 March, Ireland celebrated their annual cultural and religious festival – St. Patrick’s Day. 

Amidst the parades and carnivals, traditional Irish music and green as far as the eye could see, it is easy to forget that it had been three years since the country has last celebrated in this way. It clearly demonstrates how Ireland has recovered socially from the pandemic, but can the same be said for the travel industry?

Travel industry troubles

Before the pandemic sent the world into a stand-still, St. Patrick’s Day traditionally kicked off the summer tourism season in Ireland. 

COVID cut the number of arrivals in Ireland below 5 million in 2020 and 2021, compared to the record 20 million which was achieved just prior to the pandemic in 2019.  

Lockdown proved detrimental for those who worked within the travel sector, especially as approximately 10% of Ireland’s workforce was employed in tourism-related sectors before the pandemic hit. 

Interestingly, North American tourists represented nearly ¼ of all visitors to Ireland in 2019. Post-travel restrictions, they were also the first to start returning to Ireland – even before Europeans. 

Luck of the Irish?

A celebration of the culture and heritage of the Irish, the national holiday has had the consequence of boosting aviation travel in and around Ireland.  

Aer Lingus, Ireland’s flag carrier, is reporting strong demand over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend (Friday – Sunday). The spokesperson continued, stating that demand is increased by an additional bank holiday for this year. 

The Dublin-based airline stated that capacity is reportedly close to 70% of 2019 levels this week alone.

Growth can also be seen in the airline’s summer schedule for this year, as the airline reported to aim for an adventitious 11% jump in the number of flights that were available in 2019, aided by a boost in the amount of transatlantic flights on offer.

This comes as the airline recently resumed U.S flights to Boston and New York after they had be discontinued two years ago due to COVID-19.

aer lingus codeshare
Aer Lingus passengers can now take advantage of frequent flights to reinstated destinations in the U.S | © Andrea Ongaro / Travel Radar

Low-cost airliner Ryanair is also headquartered in Dublin and remains a direct competitor of Aer Lingus. A spokesperson stated that the airline has plans to operate its largest-ever summer schedule from Dublin Airport. 

Talking of Dublin Airport, traffic in and out of the airport had hit 77% of 2019 levels last week. 

Ireland had one of the strictest travel restrictions in the EU but seems set to make a slow but full recovery. The travel industry has always benefited from public holidays and St. Patrick’s Day turned out to be no exception. 

What do you think of the recovery of Ireland’s aviation industry? Comment below!

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