DUBLIN, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Ireland's largest airport Dublin Airport handled over 5.3 million passengers in the first half of this year, down 65 percent compared with the same period last year, according to the latest figures released by the airport.
In June, just over 94,000 passengers traveled through Dublin Airport, down 97 percent over a year ago, said the airport in a statement posted on its website.
Of all the passengers handled by the airport in June, 47,000 traveled to and from continental Europe, down 97 percent year-on-year, 31,500 traveled to and from Britain, down 96 percent, and 11,000 traveled to and from North America, down 98 percent, it said.
The economic impact of COVID-19 has not only resulted in almost 10.2 million fewer passengers handled by Dublin Airport in the first six months of this year, but also led to serious disruption to the 12 new flight routes scheduled to be opened by the airport in 2020.
Juneyao Air, a Chinese privately-owned airline based in Shanghai, originally planned to open a flight route between Dublin and Shanghai via Helsinki of Finland in March, but the plan has been postponed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dublin Airport.
Last year, an estimated 100,000 Chinese people visited Ireland, according to Tourism Ireland, a state agency responsible for marketing Ireland as a global leading tourist destination overseas.
Tourism Ireland plans to increase the number of Chinese tourists to Ireland to 200,000 by the year 2025.
The planned opening of the Dublin-Shanghai flight route by Juneyao is aimed at "enhancing the growing trade, tourism and investment links between Ireland and China," said Dublin Airport in an earlier statement.
Dalton Philips, CEO of Dublin Airport Authority which owns and operates Dublin Airport, said earlier last month that the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the local aviation industry is tremendous and it could take two or three years for the passenger numbers of Dublin Airport to return to normal levels.
Last year, Dublin Airport handled a record high of 32.9 million passengers, accounting for over 85 percent of the country's total, according to the airport's data.