Projects to tackle T2 pressures at airport clear despite protests
The DAA has been given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála for two pieces of infrastructure designed to alleviate pressure on Terminal 2 during peak hours at Dublin Airport.
A facility that will be used to bus passengers to and from planes, as well as a three-storey extension to an existing passenger pier, have been given the all-clear.
The Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA) had opposed the bus transfer facility, which can be used to facilitate so-called remote parking by aircraft.
That means the planes can be parked away from the main terminal, easing congestion there. Passengers are then bused to and from those aircraft.
T2 opened in 2010, but suffers from aircraft congestion at peak times, particularly in the morning when many transatlantic services touch down at Dublin at the same time as a surge in traffic on routes such as those to London.
IALPA opposed the bus transfer facility, arguing that it would be "fraught with safety compromises".
"The accelerated transatlantic passenger traffic growth has put the lack of airside space and contact stands under serious pressure," IALPA told An Bord Pleanála.
"As a consequence, the DAA recently embarked on a spate of planning applications to overcome these challenges.
"It's IALPA's view that this reactionary planning application compromises the existing T2 structure, disrupts current safe operations, and bears no compliance with the airfield masterplan."
The DAA had refuted the allegations.
Willie Walsh, the chief executive of Aer Lingus owner IAG, insisted last year that Aer Lingus would not use a bus transfer and remote parking facility at T2.
"We don't want buses. They should be the last choice," he said.
But more recently, Aer Lingus ceo Stephen Kavanagh said the airline would be prepared to bus passengers to and from aircraft.
The DAA has also secured approval from the planning watchdog for a new passenger transfer facility at T2's Pier 4 in Dublin Airport.
It will include security screening and passenger processing activities.
IALPA also opposed that development.
The union had argued that the proposal was contrary to proper planning and sustainable development, and noted that Pier 4 had reached its capacity after only six years in operation.
"Combined with an accelerated Aer Lingus transatlantic fleet requirement, pressure has mounted on the DAA to consider additional redevelopment of T2 and associated modifications to Pier 4," IALPA said.
"An extension to the US pre-clearance facility has resulted in the existing ground floor extending on the north-eastern corner of Pier 4, whilst this application increases the extension at ground, first and second floor."
IALPA claimed that within a decade of opening, the planned DAA projects at T2 would "significantly alter the overall original T2 design".
The DAA is undertaking a raft of infrastructure developments to tackle rapid growth. It handled more than 27 million passengers last year, compared to 25 million in 2015.
It is building a new runway and associated infrastructure at a cost of €320m.
The DAA is also building office blocks and seeking a developer for a new 402-bedroom hotel that will be directly linked to T2.