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DAA closer to forming a shortlist for its top job following departure of Dalton Philips

Interim CEO Catherine Gubbins may be in the running to land the position permanently at the airport operator

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DAA was heavily scrutinised earlier this year after major security delays at Dublin Airport led to passengers missing their flights. Photo: Frank McGrath

DAA was heavily scrutinised earlier this year after major security delays at Dublin Airport led to passengers missing their flights. Photo: Frank McGrath

Passengers at Dublin Airport. Photo: Tony Gavin

Passengers at Dublin Airport. Photo: Tony Gavin

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DAA was heavily scrutinised earlier this year after major security delays at Dublin Airport led to passengers missing their flights. Photo: Frank McGrath

DAA, which operates Dublin and Cork airports, is whittling down its list of candidates for its chief executive role, having cast its net at home and abroad to fill the vacancy.

It’s believed that former Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs is among those still in the running for the job.

Some other high-profile figures understood to have been approached about the position are thought to have declined to pursue the role. These include former Ryanair and EasyJet executive Peter Bellew, and former Aer Lingus and Emirates executive Enda Corneille.

A number of internal candidates have thrown their hats into the ring for the post, it is understood.

The semi-state company recently named Catherine Gubbins as interim chief executive. She joined the group in 2014 as group financial controller and became a member of DAA’s executive management team in 2019.

Ms Gubbins was named chief financial officer early last year. She could be a strong internal candidate for the full-time role.

Dalton Philips, who was appointed chief executive at the DAA in 2017, left the role this month to join Irish food group Greencore as its CEO.

The final months of his tenure proved a whirlwind for the executive.

DAA, formerly the Dublin Airport Authority, became the focus of intense scrutiny at the end of May when passengers at Dublin Airport experienced huge security screening delays last month, with hundreds missing flights as a result.

“Dublin Airport entered 2022 with significantly diminished staffing capacity, some months ahead of the steepest rise in air travel in its history,” said Mr Philips in June.

“Despite the herculean efforts of DAA employees, this capacity and timing mismatch has had a regrettable impact on service delivery and quality.”

DAA beefed up security staffing at the capital’s air gateway in time for the main summer rush of holidaymakers.

The airport operator made a €103m pre-exceptional loss last year, compared to a €183m pre-exceptional loss in 2020.

Mr Philips said the losses racked up by DAA came after more than 1,000 staff being let go during the pandemic.

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The Covid crisis has accounted for €387m in losses at the company over the past two years.

The chief executive role at DAA encompasses a broad spectrum of stakeholders, from airlines to local community groups.

It’s also a job that requires a significant amount of engagement at a political and union level.

Mr Philips was hauled in front of the Oireachtas Transport Committee in June following a weekend of turmoil for passengers at the airport.

Last week, trade union Siptu threatened industrial action at Dublin Airport in a dispute over the payment of wages.

Dublin Airport is currently undergoing a continuing capital infrastructure investment phase.

During the summer, its new €320m runway opened, while a number of other major projects are planned.

Cork Airport has also experienced a resurgence in passenger numbers. During the second quarter of this year, it handled 643,000, representing 88pc of the figure in the corresponding quarter in 2019.


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