Dublin Airport seeks to avoid breach as flier numbers exceed cap
Dublin Airport wants authorities to help it avoid a planning breach by excluding transfer passengers from calculations of a tally that is capped in law at 32 million passengers a year. That cap was imposed when operator DAA secured permission for terminal two (T2) in 2006.
The airport handled 31.5 million passengers last year, and is set to easily surpass that in 2019.
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So far this year, passenger numbers are up about 6pc - on course for a 33.4 million total.
Last year, the airport handled 1.9 million transfer passengers - who flew in and out of Dublin only for connecting flights.
Many of them travelled with Aer Lingus from the UK and continued their journey with the airline to a destination in North America, for example.
Planners for Dublin Airport have told Fingal County Council that transfer passengers should be excluded from the airport's total passenger numbers in the context of the cap. DAA argue the transfer passengers don't use roads, parking and other infrastructure the cap is in place to protect.
DAA wants a determination that as long as transfer passengers use a dedicated transfer facility, rather than either terminal specifically, they should be excluded from the overall passenger counts.
Of the 31.5 million passengers that passed through Dublin Airport last year, 29.4 million were processed through its two terminals.
The 1.9 million transfer passengers actually equated to about 900,000 people. They are counted as a passenger both on arrival and departure.
An additional 300,000 passengers transited through the airport - remaining on their aircraft while it made a technical stop in Dublin.
Planners for DAA, which controls Dublin Airport and Cork Airport, have argued that if the capital's airport exceeds 32 million passengers solely because of a double-count of transfer passengers, this should not be considered a development at the gateway, and that "no intensification of use can occur due to enumeration purposes".
"The manner in which passenger numbers are enumerated at Dublin Airport is a matter of international convention and is required to ensure proper and full accounting of all persons for the purpose of security checks and aircraft manifests," the planning consultants noted.
Fingal County Council has referred the request from Dublin Airport to An Bord Pleanála for a determination.
However, it's also thought that the airport will also soon submit a formal application to have the overall passenger cap raised.
The 32 million passenger cap at Dublin was imposed primarily with regards to surface transportation limitations at the time.
Now, more passengers use public transport than private cars to access the airport.