Friday 15 December 2017

Dublin Airport faces flight-time battle over runway

An aerial view of the proposed new runway due to open in 2020. The 3,110 metre runway will be built 1.6km north of the existing main runway. Photo: /PA
An aerial view of the proposed new runway due to open in 2020. The 3,110 metre runway will be built 1.6km north of the existing main runway. Photo: /PA
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Dublin Airport chiefs want to challenge orders to limit night-time flights when a second runway opens in 2020.

Aviation bosses are now examining how to overturn planning restrictions on take-offs and landings between 11pm and 7am.

The DAA, the semi-state company that controls Dublin and Cork Airports, said it plans to have the new parallel runway operational in 2020 as passenger numbers at the capital's airport soar. The project is expected to support 1,200 construction jobs. Passenger charges could also rise to meet the new runway cost.

Dublin Airport handled a record of more than 25 million passengers last year, which was 15pc more than it did in 2014. It is one of Europe's busiest, and fastest-growing airports.

The runway project had been on hold since 2007, when it was given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanala, as the economic crisis hit and air passenger travel slumped before recovering. About a dozen local action groups, schools and individuals had lodged objections to the runway plan.

The DAA previously pledged to soundproof schools and buy some existing houses close to the airport if pre-determined noise levels were consistently breached over a two-year period after runway construction.

It plans to rent out houses it buys.

"We are very conscious of balancing the national and business needs with those of our local communities and we will continue to work closely with our neighbours in relation to this project," DAA chief executive Kevin Toland said.

When 10-year permission for the 3,110-metre long runway was originally granted, two specific conditions were introduced that mean the new runway can't be used between 11pm and 7am; and that the total number of night-time flights at the airport cannot exceed 65 between 11pm and 7am once the new runway is built. Dublin Airport already operates more flights than this during those hours, which include the busiest time for departures, and one of the busiest times for arrivals.


Mr Toland described those two conditions as especially onerous - and said that they would "severely reduce the future operational capacity of the airport at key periods".

"This has implications on our ability to support future traffic growth at the airport and we are looking at how this can be addressed," he said, adding he does not foresee hurdles in successfully addressing the conditions.

In 2008, the DAA sought to amend the two conditions, which it argued at the time would "cause delays and inconvenience for airlines and passengers". It had sought to have the changes introduced by arguing that the runway project was a "strategic infrastructure development" under the 2006 Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act.

But An Bord Pleanala noted the planning application for the runway had been made prior to the act being introduced.

As such, it told the DAA that it would have to ask Fingal County Council, which originally granted the planning permission for the runway, to vary any conditions that had been imposed.

Yesterday, the DAA said that the new North Runway development has the potential to open up connectivity to a range of long-haul destinations.

It could support a further 31,000 new jobs over the next two decades, it claimed.

Aer Lingus and Ryanair - Dublin Airport's two biggest customers - have both broadly welcomed the runway plan.

But Aer Lingus said maximum value should also be extracted from existing investments.

Ryanair executive Kenny Jacobs said the airline wanted the project cost to be cut to nearer €250m.

Irish Independent

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