Agencies warn on hangar space as air traffic surges
The IDA and Enterprise Ireland are to commission a major study of Ireland's aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector as they try to identify how much additional hangar space will be needed.
The two State agencies have pointed out that there's expected to be a surge in international air passenger numbers and the number of aircraft in global fleets in the next two decades.
But they have warned of a "perceived lack of appropriate hangar infrastructure at airports and the funding limitations surrounding the construction of hangars for airports and third-party developers".
The agencies want a study to assess the likely demand for hangar space in Ireland given the forecast increase in global passenger and jet numbers, and also to evaluate the cost of building new hangars on a commercial basis.
They are asking people to tender for a contract for consultancy services to identify the "contestable market" for MRO work and the investment in infrastructure required to underpin the sector here.
They cited a projection from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that expects the number of air passengers to hit 7.8 billion a year by 2036 - almost double the number that flew last year. By 2037, jet-maker Boeing expects that 42,730 new jets will be needed, with the total global fleet of aircraft doubling in size to 48,540 by that year.
Boeing has estimated that the global aircraft maintenance and engineering market will be worth $2.3bn a year by 2037.
There are a small number of MRO and related companies already in operation in Ireland. They include Dublin Aerospace, the MRO firm established by former Ryanair executive Conor McCarthy. Lufthansa Technik also provides an MRO service at Shannon.
Mr McCarthy has previously railed against the cost of establishing hangars in Ireland. He has cited council rates imposed on hangars in Ireland as a barrier to expansion.
The IDA and Enterprise Ireland said they want to understand the current capacity and future demand for MRO services and aircraft body services in Ireland.
"The study will provide a basis to assess any investment in infrastructure development to avail of the opportunity presented by the growth in commercial aviation for Ireland's MRO service providers," the agencies said.
The IDA and Enterprise Ireland said that a sub-group of the National Civil Aviation Development Forum - established on foot of the government's National Aviation Policy - has proposed that MRO activities are of strategic importance to the overall aviation industry cluster at an airport and State level, as they provide essential services to airlines and leasing companies.