Tuesday 12 December 2017

Airport boss warns new rules will cause slump in passengers

Dublin Airport Authority ceo Kevin Toland says it will make a ‘clear case’ to remove restrictions
Dublin Airport Authority ceo Kevin Toland says it will make a ‘clear case’ to remove restrictions
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Dublin Airport's passenger numbers would immediately slump by three million if a third runway opened with two onerous planning conditions still in place, DAA ceo Kevin Toland has warned.

He also cautioned that airfares out of the capital would probably rise and connectivity would decline.

The airport boss insisted it would be a "huge disaster" and claimed that, if the two planning conditions remain, the impact would be "horrific", and the cumulative passenger loss over the next 20 years at the airport would be about 80 million.

The two conditions currently attached to the existing planning permission for the planned parallel runway include one that would prohibit its use between 11pm and 7am - a period that includes the airport's busy morning operations. The second condition would cap the number of total flights at the airport between 11pm and 7am to 65. The airport currently handles 100 flights during that time.

"That's been one of the key factors that has let us develop Dublin Airport so well over the past couple of years - building the long-haul business, which tends to come in early in the morning through to mid-morning," said Mr Toland, who was speaking at the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin yesterday.

"If you look at our position today, there are absolutely no restrictions on our business and nor should there be," he said, describing the two conditions imposed by An Bord Pleanála as "hugely problematic".

The former senior Glanbia executive said a new environmental impact study is being prepared by the DAA, the semi state company that controls Dublin and Cork airports, and that this will be submitted to the relevant authority within a couple of months.


"We will be making a very firm, clear case for those conditions to be removed," he said.

A number of local groups want the two planning conditions attached to the runway project retained.

Dublin Airport handled just under a record 28 million passengers last year, and is one of the fastest-growing large airports in Europe.

Last year, it revived plans for a third runway to cope with anticipated increases in passenger traffic in coming years. Airlines are broadly welcoming of a new runway. But Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has claimed that at 3.1km long, it would be about 500m too long for what's needed at Dublin.

Aer Lingus has expressed concerns at the anticipated cost of the project - €320m - which includes taxiways, enhanced safety elements and other associated infrastructure.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR), which regulates passenger charges at Dublin Airport, has provisionally given the DAA a €247m budget for the runway.

Preparatory work for the project has already begun. The scheme is out to tender and the DAA expects that construction will fully commence in the summer. The runway is due to open in 2020.

Mr Toland also said that he did not believe that new European directive related to aircraft noise management would impact Dublin Airport.

The existing planning permission for the new runway expires this year.

Last month, the DAA applied to Fingal County Council for a time extension to that original permission, which was granted in 2007.

"It was not possible to implement the permission due to the severe economic, commercial and financial recession which hit the global economy and Ireland in 2008," the DAA said.

Irish Independent

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