Saturday 20 July 2019

McEvaddy looks to woo IAG and Delta for new transatlantic hub

Entrepreneur has discussed new Dublin terminal plans with airline bosses

Aer Lingus flight crew at the airline’s rebrand in Dublin last week. Pic:Naoise Culhane-no fee
Aer Lingus flight crew at the airline’s rebrand in Dublin last week. Pic:Naoise Culhane-no fee

Fearghal O'Connor

Aviation entrepreneur Ulick McEvaddy has held discussions with international aviation giants IAG - which owns Aer Lingus and British Airways - and US carrier Delta about establishing new hubs for their operations at his proposed new Dublin Airport terminal, it is understood.

McEvaddy met IAG boss Willie Walsh and former Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh and discussed the possibility of either British Airways or Aer Lingus - or both - becoming the anchor tenant at the terminal, according to well-placed industry sources.

Aviation entrepreneur Ulick McEvadd
Aviation entrepreneur Ulick McEvadd

Similar "preliminary discussions" have also been held with the world's second-largest airline, Delta Air Lines, which has a longstanding operation out of Dublin. McEvaddy's proposal would see the US carrier create a much bigger hub operation at Dublin, according to sources.

A spokeswoman for Delta said that it did not comment on "industry rumour or speculation".

A recent report prepared for the Department of Transport by consultants Oxford Economics found "no strong reason to delay development of a third terminal on grounds of affordability".

It found that a third terminal could be part of a wider plan to make Dublin a primary hub airport and that "this option could include BA [British Airways] moving some traffic over from Heathrow, which may be a consideration for the organisation post-Brexit".

When contacted by this newspaper, British Airways owner IAG referred the matter to sister airline Aer Lingus.

A spokeswoman for that airline said she was "not in a position to comment on whether or not meetings took place".

But she added that it was important a third terminal did not become a "distraction" and the airline was supportive of the plans of semi-state airport authority DAA to further develop hub infrastructure at the existing terminals between now and 2024.

Aer Lingus has major growth ambitions on transatlantic routes in the coming years with plans to grow its transatlantic fleet to 30 aircraft.

But it has also had a sometimes fraught relationship with DAA in recent times over claims that it has made about the lack of investment in the type of airport infrastructure that it says it needs to further develop Dublin into a transatlantic transit point for British and European passengers seeking to avoid heavily-congested hubs such as London Heathrow.

DAA has long argued that a third terminal is not required at the airport in the medium term. Nevertheless, McEvaddy - who declined to comment when contacted by this newspaper - has said that his proposals could proceed should Transport Minister Shane Ross make a decision that a new terminal is required.

McEvaddy - who runs aviation company Omega Air - wants to develop a third independent terminal on 130 acres of land he owns adjacent to Dublin Airport. The land lies to the west of the existing terminals, directly between the current main runway and a new parallel runway that DAA plans to build. It was reported by this newspaper in 2017 that McEvaddy has secured financial backing for the project - which could cost as much as €2bn - from a major Dubai-based fund, Tricap Investments.

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