Tuesday 27 September 2016

Council to assess Dublin Airport's runway plan in major review

Published 07/07/2016 | 02:30

One of the 62 new self-service kiosks at Dublin Airport installed as part of a €2m upgrade of check-in facilities
One of the 62 new self-service kiosks at Dublin Airport installed as part of a €2m upgrade of check-in facilities

A MAJOR review of Dublin Airport's long-term development requirements - including an assessment of its current €320m runway plan - is being initiated by Fingal County Council.

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Experts being hired by the council will also assess how conditions imposed on the existing planning permission for the new runway will impact its efficiency and operability.

They're also being asked to determine what the benefits would be of a longer runway than the 3.1km one that's currently proposed.

Planning permission for the runway was granted in 2007 and the project was put on hold during the downturn.

The DAA, which controls Dublin and Cork airports, announced earlier this year that the new runway project at the capital would go ahead.

Construction is slated to start next year and be completed by 2020, as the airport aims to capitalise on its increasing attractiveness as a secondary hub serving North America. But two conditions attached to the existing planning permission would stymie the runway's operational capacity.

One condition was that the new runway would not be operational between 11pm and 7am.

The morning cut-off would prevent it being used for much of what is the busiest time of day at the airport, when many flights from North America arrive and flights to London and other European cities take off in the morning business rush.

A second condition was that Dublin Airport's total number of night-time flights cannot exceed 65 between 11pm and 7am once the new runway is built.

The airport already exceeds that number even with its current infrastructure, handling about 90 take-offs and landings in that period.

The airport is one of the fastest-growing in Europe. It handled 25 million passengers last year, 15pc more than in 2014. This year, the figure is certain to exceed 27 million. It's increasingly targeting transfer passenger traffic, spurred by IAG's takeover of Aer Lingus.

New EU rules that have reassessed permissible noise levels at EU airports, could mean that the contentious runway planning conditions could be lifted.

However, it seems likely at this stage that the DAA will still have to seek an amendment to the conditions from An Bord Pleanála.

"An assessment of the runway's suitability in terms of its current design and associated planning conditions should be conducted to inform the upcoming Local Area Plan review," according to Fingal County Council.

The experts are also being asked to assess if a runway of between 3.4km and 3.7km long should be built.

The review of the Local Airport Plan will also have to include an assessment of different development scenarios on Dublin Airport's ability to "realise its potential as a European secondary hub airport, and/or offering greater capacity or capability with respect to long-haul or freight traffic," according to the council.

A draft plan is due to be prepared for the council by the end of January.

This week, the Department of Transport launched a public consultation on airport charges regulation in Ireland. It follows the publication of a report by Indecon on the topic.

Meanwhile, the DAA yesterday announced a €2m investment in 62 new self-service kiosks at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.

Depending on which airline passengers are travelling with, they can check in, tag their own bag and dispatch it to the baggage system.

The new kiosks are initially being used by Ryanair, Aer Lingus, CityJet and Flybe.

The bag drop units in Terminal 2 are the world's first touchless bag drops kiosks.

They automatically detect that the tag is attached, and the weight is correct and then dispatch the bag without the need for the passenger to touch any button or screen.

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