Monday 17 June 2019

Dublin Airport will be able to handle summer traffic, vows DAA

Dublin Airport is one of Europe’s busiest, and handled 31.5m passengers last year
Dublin Airport is one of Europe’s busiest, and handled 31.5m passengers last year
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

DUBLIN AIRPORT will be able to accommodate all aircraft this summer as it gears up for its busiest travel season ever, the DAA has said.

That's despite the semi-State's own previous warnings of looming constraints for narrow-body aircraft parking at the gateway.

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Those warnings, first made in 2017, and again highlighted at the weekend in a document published by the semi-state company as it prepares to undertake a €235m programme of works that's part of a wider €900m infrastructure development project at the airport.

The DAA warned two years ago that there wouldn't be enough aircraft stands to meet demand for narrow-body aircraft during the busy morning rush in summer 2019. Narrow-body jets are aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 that typically serve short-haul routes.

The documentation explains how in early 2017 when the DAA was planning infrastructure works to be completed in the next five years, that there were 105 aircraft stands for narrow-body aircraft at Dublin Airport, with expected demand projected then to hit 116 in summer 2019 - a shortfall of 11. With contingency provisions, the shortfall was likely to be 21, it said.

But a spokesman for the DAA insisted yesterday that Dublin Airport will now be able to accommodate all aircraft this summer.

"There is no shortfall for summer 2019 in terms of stands as we are using more remote stands, the use of which is common in many large airports," he said. "There are 36 wide-body stands for summer 2019 and all wide-bodied aircraft are being accommodated."

Remote stands typically see passengers bussed to and from aircraft.

Dublin Airport is grappling with soaring passenger numbers. It handled 31.5 million passengers last year, up from just under 30 million in 2017. The figure will rise again this year. Even a 5pc increase with put numbers at just over 33 million for 2019.

DAA chief executive Dalton Philips said last autumn that the total number of aircraft stands at Dublin Airport was 112 at the time. He said the number would rise to 147 within another few years.

The DAA has also noted that some of the main aircraft aprons currently in use at the airport were built more than 60 years ago. "Several of these areas are on major routes through the apron and if they become unserviceable will cause significant aircraft delays due to re-routing and congestion," it warned.

"The airfield aprons are a critical element of the airfield network, providing facilities for aircraft to manoeuvre, park and be serviced," it noted.

"Many of the main aircraft aprons at Dublin Airport date back to before the 1960s and, in a number of cases, have reached the end of their useful life. Timely interventions to rehabilitate failed aircraft aprons are critical to the safeguarding of the airline and airport business."

The DAA said that a large section of apron will be replaced between 2020 and 2024.

"It is proposed to carry out circa 66,000m2 of pavement rehabilitation between 2020 and 2024 in a planned and timely manner and on a priority basis to replace damaged pavement before they become a business interruption or health and safety risk," it said.

Irish Independent

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