Monday 14 October 2019

DAA says Dublin Airport fliers don't want lower charge

Survey: DAA CEO Dalton Philips has criticised the proposed charge
Survey: DAA CEO Dalton Philips has criticised the proposed charge
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

THE DAA has insisted that passengers want charges at Dublin Airport to remain flat and that they do not think airlines will pass on any lower costs to fliers.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) has proposed slashing passenger charges at the airport and is set to deliver a final determination in the middle of next month.

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The DAA, the semi-State body that operates Dublin and Cork airports, said that 60pc of passengers using the capital's airport want charges to remain unchanged.

The survey of 500 passengers who either used Dublin Airport within the past 12 months, or intend to use it within the next year, also found just 29pc believe carriers would pass on lower charges to customers. Dublin Airport handled 31.5 million passengers last year.

CAR said in a provisional determination published in May that it planned to reduce the maximum charge per passenger that can be levied on those using the airport to €7.50 between 2020 and 2024.

It said this represented a 15pc decrease on the current maximum charge of €8.81.

The maximum charge which can actually be charged at the moment is €9.01, due to carry-over permitted by CAR. At the time the provisional determination was released, DAA chief executive Dalton Philips described it as "fundamentally flawed" and insisted that the lower passenger charge would jeopardise a €1.8bn capital expenditure programme at Dublin Airport.

The DAA had sought a maximum charge in the range of €9.05 to €9.94 per passenger for the 2020-24 period.

The DAA claims the actual decrease under the new charge proposal from the commission would be 22pc.

"Consumers have spoken," said Mr Philips yesterday. "They want flat charges at Dublin Airport so that we can invest in new and improved facilities."

He added: "The aviation regulator's argument that a €2 reduction in airport charges is positive for consumers is simply not supported by the research.

"Passengers don't believe that they will see that €2 in their pockets. The clear consumer preference is for flat charges and for more investment in facilities, which is exactly what we had planned."

But CAR commissioner Cathy Mannion has already insisted that the planned cut in passenger charges at Dublin Airport would still enable the DAA to deliver a high-quality service.

"The reduction in price will benefit passengers, through lower air fares, but also by encouraging continued growth at the airport, offering passengers increased choice and connectivity," she said earlier this year.

In its submission to the CAR on the proposed price changes, Aer Lingus owner IAG claimed that the DAA had "profited too much" from beating traffic forecasts used in the previous determination, which covers the period from 2015 to the end of 2019.

IAG also claimed that the DAA "has not always provided Aer Lingus and other airlines with an appropriate quality of service".

Consultants for Ryanair alleged in the airline's submission that "there is a track record of Dublin Airport failing in the past to behave as if it were in a competitive situation and it is still failing to do so".

They added: "Dublin Airport is not doing enough to tackle staff costs and inefficiencies, and this situation is not new but has been allowed to drag on over the course of two determination periods, with a risk that it will drag on further into the next period as well, at the expense of users."

Irish Independent

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