Shannon Airport has stemmed a decline in passenger numbers in its first year as an independent entity.

This comes after five successive years of declines, but 2013 saw a marginal increase in passenger numbers.  

A total of 1,400,032 passengers flew through Shannon during 2013, up from 1,394,781 in 2012.

Most of the growth came in the latter half of the year, thanks mainly to transatlantic routes where volumes were up 22% due to new services to Chicago and Philadelphia. 

British and European routes were also boosted by new services last year, to Alicante, Faro, Lanzarote and Liverpool. 

Shannon Group's chairman Rose Hynes predicted that growth will further accelerate this year from March when services at the airport will be significantly enhanced.  

Ryanair is due to start eight new routes from the airport to Berlin, Paris, Fuerteventura, Warsaw, Faro, Munich, Nice and Krakow, while Aer Lingus Regional starts its new daily Bristol service, increases Manchester from twice to three daily frequencies and doubles the existing Birmingham daily service. 

Aer Lingus will also start to fly daily on its Boston and JKF New York services while US airline United Airlines will increase its capacity on the Shannon-Chicago service by 88% as it puts on an additional 90 flights this year. 

"The target of the independent Shannon Airport at the start of the year was to halt the decline in passenger numbers and we have achieved that," said Ms Hynes. "From here on we are in growth mode and have a very solid platform laid thanks to the advances made in 2013 but particularly the new routes secured that are now in place for 2014," she added.

"After a slow start in terms of passenger numbers over the first five months, trends improved considerably as the year drew on and the second half of the year was very positive. We are very confident that we will now achieve real growth as we move into 2014 and beyond," commented Shannon Group's chief executive Neil Pakey.