Brexit will mean fewer flights to the UK and pricier tickets from next Spring - DAA
The effects of the UK’s decision to leave the EU will be visible from next spring, with airlines offering less routes to the UK, and at higher prices, Kevin Toland, CEO of the Dublin Airport Authority, has told a Seanad Special Select Committee on Brexit.
Toland, who will leave the DAA later this year to join global bakery company Aryzta, also warned that the UK will become a bigger competitor of Ireland’s both in terms of tourism and the provision of flights to regional airports in the UK.
Currently 42pc of tourist numbers into Ireland come in from the UK, with visitors from Great Britain generating €1.1bn in revenue for the Irish economy in 2016.
However Toland warned that the tourist numbers were already falling, with trips by UK residents to the Republic of Ireland down 10.7pc between February and April this year.
Further to this, the UK could become more competitive in attracting tourists away from Ireland as the Sterling weakens, he said.
In terms of what could be done to mitigate the affect of Brexit, the Seanad was told that the Irish airline industry needs to deepen its connectivity, in particular through greater numbers of long-haul flights and the building of a new runway at the airport.
Toland, who has been CEO of the DAA since 2013, advised that introducing duty-free shopping between Ireland and the UK should commence immediately after the UK leaves the EU, and that Ireland should position itself as the ‘business destination of choice’.
Toland also warned the need to prioritise the airline industry in Ireland, advising that, out of the EU-27 members, Ireland is most dependant on the UK, with traffic to and from the UK representing 36pc of Dublin Airport’s business.
In comparison, France only depends on the UK for 6.8pc of its air traffic, while for Germany, the percentage of traffic to and from its airports to the UK is even smaller, at 6.1pc.
On the subject of the need for a second runway at Dublin Airport, Toland said that currently during the hours of 5am to midnight, the airport is at 87pc capacity, therefore it was a priority that another runway be built as soon as possible to ensure that Ireland remains the preferred location for business and tourism.
A longer runway would also increase the airport’s capacity for long-haul flights, as well as facilitate approximately €2.2bn growth in GDP and approximately 31,000 new jobs.