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Planned €70m Dublin Airport carpark deal referred to competition watchdog

Senator Gerard Craughwell questions decision by DAA to buy carpark beside Dublin Airport


Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport have recovered strongly following the pandemic. Photo: Jason Alden

Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport have recovered strongly following the pandemic. Photo: Jason Alden

Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport have recovered strongly following the pandemic. Photo: Jason Alden

A PLANNED purchase by the DAA of a huge carpark beside Dublin Airport that went up for sale last year with a €70m price tag has been referred to the competition watchdog by independent Senator Gerard Craughwell.

He said that he was surprised that the DAA has emerged as the preferred bidder for the site, which was put up for sale by developer Gerry Gannon last summer. It’s been closed for some time.

The DAA’s offer for the former Quickpark carpark was accepted by Mr Gannon last autumn. The sale of the site followed a 2021 court ruling that determined Mr Gannon was entitled to a near €2.2m judgment against a company controlled by transport entrepreneur John O’Sullivan that operated a long-term carpark on the land.

The site extends over almost 17 hectares (almost 42 acres) and has permission for 6,122 long-term car parking spaces as well as office space for staff.

Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison confirmed to the Joint Oireachtas Transport and Communications Committee on Wednesday that the airport operator is engaged in finalising contracts for the purchase of the site.

But while Mr Caughwell acknowledged that there was a requirement for more parking at Dublin Airport, he expressed concern that the DAA had emerged as the preferred bidder for the site.

He described the price of parking at the airport as a “ripoff” and “absolutely outrageous”. There are currently about 26,000 available carparking spaces at Dublin Airport, with one in four passengers at the airport parking their cars there.

“Why in God’s name would you want to buy another carpark? I thought you were into competition,” Mr Craughwell asked new DAA chief executive Kenny Jacobs and other top brass at the semi-state company as they appeared before the committee.

“That carpark was publicly available for sale,” said Mr Harrison. “Among the discussions that we had during the summer here related to the shortage of carparking spaces available at the airport and the consequent impact on pricing.”

“When that carpark became available for sale, we expressed our interest,” added Mr Harrison. “We are in a process. We do not own the carpark as yet.”

However, he said the DAA is “hopeful” it will be in a position, subject to contracts, to make the carparking available to passengers for next summer.

“If there is available existing capacity, rather than leaving it closed and shuttered, we are interested in making it available,” Mr Harrison added.

“I’ve asked the competition authority [The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission] to look into this,” Mr Craughwell told the Committee. “I don’t believe that it’s right that you should have all the carparking within the confines of Dublin Airport.”

“If I’m correct, there were five or six entities that expressed an interest in Quickpark, and if I’m right, you were actually the lowest bidder,” he said.

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Mr Jacobs told the Committee that he’s confident passengers at Dublin Airport won’t again experience the type of security delays and other inadequate services that they saw early last summer.

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