Watchdog cuts passenger price cap at Dublin Airport
The Commission for Aviation Regulation has confirmed a provisional price cap of €9.59 per passenger at Dublin Airport for 2018 - down from the €10.30 maximum that was levied last year.
The provisional price cap for 2017 was €9.86 per passenger at Dublin Airport.
The capital's airport is the only airport in the country where passenger charges are regulated.
In 2016, the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) said that Dublin Airport collected just under €273m in passenger charges, having charged the maximum €10.30 per passenger. Slightly more than 27.9 million passengers used Dublin Airport last year and this year's figure could tip over 30 million.
The Commission sets the charge by taking into account factors such as projected traffic levels, the estimated capital expenditure planned by the DAA, as well as input from stakeholders such as airlines.
"The price cap can change if additional triggers for capital projects related to the north runway, runway line-up points, or HBS Standard 3 in Terminal 2 are reached, or if quality of service targets are not met," the CAR noted.
HBS, or Hold Baggage Screening, is necessary to ensure that no prohibited items are contained in luggage that will be loaded into an aircraft hold.
An upgrade to a new standard to HBS is necessary at Terminal 2 in order to comply with European regulations. The upgrade has to be in place by September 2020. The DAA is expected to spend an initial €13m on that project in 2019.
The DAA said earlier this year that the HBS project would be "challenging and complex" and will require significant planning while minimising the impact to airport operations and security.
In September, the Department of Transport initiated a significant legislative change that means the Minister for Transport will no longer be able to interfere in the setting of passenger charges at Dublin Airport by the CAR.
In setting the maximum allowable passenger charge at Dublin Airport, the CAR must ensure that the DAA's financial position is not undermined.
That has led to ministerial directions being issued in the past to the CAR, with the Department often being accused of effectively directing the CAR as to how charges should be set.
The current system of assessing passenger charges at Dublin Airport has been in place since 2001.
In early 2015, the Department of Transport - which was then headed by Paschal Donohoe - initiated a review of that system.