Ross won't rule out private-run third terminal at Dublin Airport
A third terminal at Dublin Airport should not necessarily be State-owed, according to Transport Minister Shane Ross.
The statement underscores his continued inclination towards the possibility of the first privately-owned major piece of infrastructure at the country's biggest gateway.
Mr Ross was addressing the CAPA aviation conference at Powerscourt in Co Wicklow yesterday, which was attended by senior executives from around the world.
Among those at the event was IAG chief executive Willie Walsh, Cathay Pacific chief executive Rupert Hogg, and DAA chief executive Dalton Philips.
Mr Ross said that airports must continue to innovate to provide services suitable for 21st century airlines.
"In Ireland, an ambitious airports investment programme has been included in our national development plan launched last month," he told the audience, "and will ensure we can maintain and grow our aviation links into the future."
He added: "The investment envisaged in the national development plan in transport generally, and in the area of international connectivity, is rooted in sustainability, balance and seizing the opportunities for our economy to expand to better support our society."
Mr Ross said "the national development plan in Ireland will prioritise infrastructural improvements at our airports.
"The possibility of a third terminal in Dublin, not necessarily State-owned, should not be ruled out."
Last month, Dalton Philips insisted that a third terminal would not be required at Dublin Airport until passenger numbers hit 55 million a year. Last year, the airport handled 29.6 million.
The airport is highly unlikely to continue recording the blistering pace of passenger growth it has notched up in recent years, making it as many as 20 years before a third terminal is required, Mr Philips said last month.
On a rolling 12-month basis, the number of passengers using the airport topped 30 million a year last month, Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison told the conference yesterday.
The Government is currently undertaking an airport capacity review - the results of which are due out later this year - that will determine airport infrastructure requirements to 2050.
Trade union Siptu has continually opposed any privately-owned terminal at Dublin.
The airport is in the throes of major infrastructure projects, including the construction of a new runway which is due to open in 2021. That €320m project also includes a new runway and other infrastructure. The Irish Aviation Authority is also constructing a €50m control tower at the airport.
The minister also said that minimising disruption of airline operations in Ireland following Brexit next year is a priority for the Government.
"The EU now has a role in every aspect of aviation, and Brexit impinges on every aspect," he told the conference.
"My department and the Government is ready for every eventuality," he insisted, adding that the challenges for the aviation sector are "unique".
"For Ireland, maintaining top connectivity, minimising disruption of airline operations, seeking regulatory alignment and ensuring the continued safe, efficient and effective aviation operations are key objectives in the Brexit negotiations," said Mr Ross.