Ryanair staff at Dublin Airport are headed for the departure lounge, with the airline having confirmed that it is moving its head office in a €20m investment.
The airline paid about €11m last year for the building (right) at the Airside Business Park in Swords, Co Dublin, just a short distance from the airport.
It had been completed a number of years ago and was constructed by developer David Daly, who was also responsible for the development of the adjacent retail park.
It is thought that the airline will spend up to another €9m fitting out the new HQ and undertaking some additional construction work at the site before staff move in. It will be home to all the airline's operations, including its commercial, customer service, finance, IT, legal and marketing departments.
Ryanair said yesterday that about 500 of its staff would be moving to the building in the autumn. Employees will be moving from its head office, as well as another building at the airport, and from a premises beside the Phoenix Park.
The airline will probably take the top floor of the near 100,000 sq ft premises, and will offer about half the space to "other high-profile multinational companies".
But the move could also raise problems for the carrier regarding its current HQ, which was built in 1992. The airline has nearly another 10 years to run on a lease for the premises, for which it pays €244,000 a year to the Dublin Airport Authority. It may decide to sub-let the building and continue to use part of it to provide facilities for pilots and cabin crew.
The existing head office was built by a company called Darley Investments using an estimated €3.2m loan from the airline. Darley was originally controlled by a trust fund established for the benefit of the sons of the late Ryanair founder, Tony Ryan. Darley became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ryanair in 1996.
The site on which the HQ was built was leased by Darley from the Department of Transport for 30 years at a cost of €244,000 a year. But Ryanair paid no rent for the first 12 years under a deal it had struck and then paid just 50pc of the annual lease cost until 2008.
Since then it has been paying the full amount. The deal was structured to allow Ryanair to claw back the construction costs. Ownership of the building was transferred to the airport authority after construction.
A DAA spokesman declined to comment.