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Ireland ready for Ryder cup helicopter influx

Skies over Dublin will be buzzing next month as Ireland gears up for its first Ryder Cup tournament.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) estimates there will be up to 600 helicopter flights a day during the event, being held at the K Club on Sep. 22-24 -- equalling the total number of all flights handled by Dublin airport on a busy day.

Up to 40,000 visitors are expected to turn out each day for the competition, which will generate some 130 million euros ($166.5 million) for Irish tourism. Another one billion viewers will watch worldwide.

"A lot of preparation from our side, both from a safety point of view and from an air traffic point of view has taken place over the past few months in advance of the Ryder Cup, " IAA spokeswoman Lilian Cassin said on Wednesday.

"We are part of a multi-disciplinary team, involving military and garda (police) and we have set up a special unit within Air Traffic Control to deal with this," she added.

A mixture of private and commercial operators will fly clients into the area, about 40 minutes drive from Dublin, during the tournament, with operators charging an average of around 1,200 euros per flight hour.

"Around 600 flights are handled at Dublin Airport on a busy day -- not helicopter flights, that's all flights," said Cassin.

"These include 747s coming in from New York or London or whatever, so we are saying that we expect the same degree of movement in and out of the K Club during the Ryder Cup."

Once one of Europe's poorest countries, wealthy Ireland now has so many helicopters that aviation authorities said earlier this year they were having to create special lanes for them in the airspace over Dublin.

There are estimated to be more helicopters per person in Ireland than the United States or Britain.



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