Shannon airport’s importance to tourism on Ireland’s west and south coast illustrated by 38 percent hike in US passenger numbers last month.

Shannon Airport’s passenger numbers have turned a significant corner, with a 38 percent hike in US passenger numbers and an 8 percent overall growth in June, compared to figures from 2012.

The increase has been most pronounced in US passenger numbers, which have shown a massive 38 percent increase on the same month last year, largely due to the commencement of a new United Airlines Chicago service on June 6 and a Philadelphia service with US Airways on May 22.

It is the latest in a series of positive developments on transatlantic operations this year at Shannon. It follows the announcement two weeks ago by Aer Lingus that it is to increase frequency on its existing Boston and JFK New York flights next year, resulting in a 25 percent increase (50,000 passengers) on its transatlantic passengers at Shannon n 2014.

Meanwhile, 2012 Red C market research illustrates Shannon’s importance in terms of delivering US tourists, and, therefore, spend in counties from the West down to the South West and even up as far as the capital.

The research shows that of the US transatlantic passengers who arrived through Shannon last year, 46 percent holidayed in Clare, 43 in Kerry, 30 in Galway, 26 in Dublin, 24 in Cork and 17 percent in Limerick.

The airport has seen passengers numbers grow month-on-month for the first time in five years. This news comes just six months after Shannon set out on life as an independent entity.

Overall, passenger numbers grew to 160,573 in June, from 148,531 last year.  European services also contributed significantly to the increase, up by 18 percent on the same month last year.  Major contributing factors here were the return of the popular Ryanair Alicante service, the airline’s additional frequencies on Palma and the commencement of Aer Lingus flights to Faro in the Algarve.

Welcoming the June passenger numbers increase, Shannon Airport Chief Executive Neil Pakey said “We are very encouraged by this increase.  It is down in no small way down to the hard work of our team in securing a range of new services and is a really good start to life as an independent airport.

“The growth in US passenger numbers is particularly encouraging for the regions we provide services for as tourism estimates are that US visitors spend, on average, 60% more than other tourists in Ireland.

“Our catchment includes some of Ireland’s leading tourism counties, so having a significantly improved range of services this year, especially on transatlantic routes, is extremely important to these counties.

“We are also encouraged by the number of Shannon passengers now visiting Dublin.  The regions we serve offer a distinct Irish holiday experience but the quality of our road and public transport network now also enables visitors to easily access Dublin for one or two-night stays while basing themselves here.”