DAA profits plunge to €30m as internal flights suffer collapse
PROFITS plunged at the Dublin Airport Authority last year, hit by increased borrowing costs and a virtual collapse in air travel inside Ireland.
The DAA is the state agency that runs the country's three main airports at Dublin, Cork and Shannon.
Earlier this month, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said Shannon was to be made independent of the DAA, but executives said they had yet to be given a timetable for a handover or details of how the break-up was to be executed.
Yesterday's results show that losses were €7m at Shannon last year and €14m at Cork Airport. The overall DAA profits come from a combination of profits at Dublin and from overseas duty-free shops.
Group profits fell 9pc last year to €30m, driven down by a €51m increase in depreciation and interest charges.
Debt costs and depreciation charges are kicking in following the completion of the second terminal at Dublin Airport.
Passenger numbers held up in 2011, rising a modest 1pc, with the number of trips starting outside the country up 2pc.
While the trend is positive, passenger numbers are up from a low base because the 2010 numbers were badly affected by the Icelandic volcano crisis.
The latest figures show air travel within Ireland is becoming a thing of the past.
Internal traffic from Shannon fell 93pc and internal traffic from Cork dropped 73pc last year.
Intercity travel is collapsing because of the opening up of motorways combined with the economic slowdown, according to interim chief executive Oliver Cussen. He said operating costs at the DAA had been cut aggressively and were now below the level in 2005.
The DAA is spending less to run two terminals at Dublin Airport than it spent running just one seven years ago.
Passenger numbers at Shannon were down 7pc last year to 1.6 million -- half the level of 2007. Practical action to separate Shannon from the rest of the group will not begin until a working party -- to be established by Mr Varadkar -- produces a report, DAA chairman Padraig O'Riordan said.
Mr O'Riordan noted calls from some airline operators to reduce passenger charges in order to encourage more travel, but said he believed charges were competitive and that reductions in charges were not passed on to customers.