Wednesday 24 May 2017

Airports doing secret grant deals to attract airlines, claims DAA

AVIATION

Emmet Oliver

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), which owns Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports, has claimed some European airports are doing secret deals with airlines by giving them start-up grants.

In a submission the company has given to the EU Commission, which is reviewing the position of regional airports, it claims airports all over Europe are now competing with airports in their direct catchment area and assistance given to airlines has become crucial.

"DAA is somewhat concerned that a number of airports are offering non-published start-up aid where there is a lack of transparency in relation to the degree and range of support on offer."

The company, led by chief executive Declan Collier, said airlines were using the private deals to grab extra market share and gain leverage over other airports.

The authority also outlined major concerns over the kind of deals airports are doing on passenger charges.

"DAA has also received unsubstantiated reports that specific airlines have negotiated deals with individual airports where they are receiving. . . 100pc reduction in airport charges over extended periods."

The company is calling on the EU to force airports to publish details of all the financial assistance they offer.

"There should be clear guidelines on what is legally acceptable in terms of the degree and duration of financial assistance to airlines."

The DAA offered a number of "support schemes'' to airlines, it said, but details were published and fully transparent.

The Department of Transport also made a submission to the commission, pointing out that Dublin Airport received no state assistance and all expenditure was picked up by the company.

However, it accepted that cash was no longer available to upgrade privately-owned regional airports like Sligo, Knock and Kerry.

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