Air fares are likely to rise over the coming year, but not significantly, the Oireachtas Transport Committee has heard.

The Director General of the International Air Transport Association, a lobby group which represents 290 airlines around the world, told TDs and Senators that the net cost of jet fuel was likely to rise in the next year and this would feed into airline prices.

However, Willie Walsh added that while there would be an increase, he did not believe it would be "significant", possibly less than 10%.

The committee also heard that Ireland has recovered faster than most European countries.

In contrast, Mr Walsh told members that the UK has seen slower recovery in air travel compared to other countries in Europe. He said that Brexit could be a contributory factor in the different rates of growth.

Members also heard that Ireland has seen a strong recovery in the transatlantic market.

Earlier this year, the rapid recovery in passenger numbers following Covid-19 restrictions led to staffing issues at Dublin Airport.

Labour's transport spokesperson Duncan Smith asked if lower wages were impacting the attractiveness of jobs at the airport.

Mr Walsh said that many people had left the aviation industry during the height of the pandemic and that Government supports could have been better designed to keep employees in their roles. He said Spain had been particularly good at this and as a result the same level of delays in airports were not experienced there.

The conditionality applied to supports in other countries, such as Spain, differed from the situation in Ireland and this allowed more people to be retained, he explained.

A number of politicians used today's session to explore how balanced regional growth, in terms of passenger numbers could be achieved, with some arguing that Dublin was too dominant.

Members of the committee will tomorrow travel to Schiphol Airport to discuss Ireland's national aviation policy which is due to be reviewed by the Department of Transport.

Mr Walsh told Committee Chair and Limerick City TD Kieran O'Donnell that it was possible to increase the number of flights to Shannon Airport, for example, through Government incentives. However, he warned that it was not feasible to turn Shannon into a hub airport.

"I love ambition, but I would be misleading you if I thought that Shannon could aspire to develop as a hub airport, it's just too complex and too expensive," he said.

Mr Walsh told the committee that Shannon Airport has always been a good airport, but that the local base in the Shannon region is relatively small. Tourism and investment are the ways to drive numbers into the area, he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Walsh criticised the design of Dublin Airport's Terminal 2.

He told Senator Timmy Dooley that it has not stood the test of time.

"Many of these issues were highlighted at the design stage of Dublin Airport", Mr Walsh replied.

Mr Walsh said that technology is a key issue and used the example of Bahrain airport where the security process is a lot more efficient. He said that passengers in Bahrain do not have to empty bags when going through security and it improves the passenger experience.

The same security technology was installed in Shannon Airport during pandemic restrictions.

In its opening statement to the committee, the IATA said that it expects air travel in Ireland to reach 100% of 2019 levels next year and to reach 119% of pre-pandemic levels by 2024.