Monday 24 April 2017

DAA accused of using Cork transatlantic service as 'trojan horse' to increase flights in Dublin

Alan Kelly. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Alan Kelly. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THE Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has been accused of using the introduction of a transatlantic service to Cork as a "Trojan Horse" to increase the number of flights in Dublin.

The claim was made by Labour TD Alan Kelly at a meeting of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as Norwegian Air International (NAI) announced details of the new routes that offer one way tickets from €69.

Mr Kelly welcomed the announcment of the flights for Cork and other Irish airports but questioned why the majortiy of flights are to and from Dublin.

He said the planned routes were "hung off the concept that the flights would be in and out of Cork," Mr Kelly claimed.

"What’s being announced today as I understand it is 12 flights for Dublin, six flights for Belfast, four flights for Shannon and three flights for Cork. Now as far as I'm concerned this is a Trojan horse."

He added: "They effectively have pushed up the passenger numbers as regards Dublin."

A DAA operates Dublin and Cork airports.

A spokesman responded to Mr Kelly's remarks pointing out its "statutory responsibility to grow traffic at its airports" and he highlighted growth at Cork Airport.

During the PAC meeting Mr Kelly quizzed Transport Department secretary general Graham Doyle on when his officials first heard flights to Dublin would be announced by NAI..

Mr Doyle said he heard about it in the last couple of weeks but couldn't say exactly when officials in the aviation division of the department were told. He promised to find out and report back to the PAC.

Mr Kelly said he wanted to see correspondence between the Department and the DAA on the matter.

"What we have today is an announcement which is effectively part of an agenda to bring a third terminal into Dublin... And obviously to get another runway," Mr Kelly claimed.

He added: "Now I welcome bringing in Norwegian... However, the way in which this was done needs to be looked at, needs to be investigated."

"Because if you look at the projections as regards all the other airports in the country. Dublin from 2012 to now has gone from 81pc to 86pc of all passengers.

"All other airports have gone downwards."

Mr Kelly repeated that he wanted to know who knew about the Dublin flights in the Department.

Mr Doyle said he would get that information. He said the Department was supportive of the NAI announcement and pointed out to Mr Kelly that he had also welcomed the flights.

PAC chairman Seán Fleming asked that a deatiled note on the matter be sent to members by the Department.

A DAA spokesman said it has a "statutory responsibility to grow traffic at its airports for the benefit of the Irish economy" and that the agency is "delighted" that NAI announced transtlantic flights from Dublin and Cork from July.

"This is a great day for Cork Airport and for Dublin Airport," he added, saying the routes will boost tourism and deliver economic benefits throughout the country.

"Management at Cork Airport, supported by DAA, has worked tirelessly with Norwegian to secure this new service and today after a 56 year wait, Cork is now a transatlantic airport," the spokesman added.

"Cork Airport, was the State's second fastest growing airport last year with traffic up 8pc to 2.2 million passengers," he said.

"This growth further solidified Cork Airport's position as the second largest airport in the State. Passenger numbers at Dublin increased by 11pc to almost 28 million."

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