- Dublin Airport claims passenger growth helps create 20,000 over past four years
- Airport now supports 117,300 jobs
- Passenger numbers up from 20.2m to 27.9 at Dublin over past four years
- Passenger numbers hit 30.1m at Dublin and Cork combined
- DAA profits after tax rise 75pc to €108m in 2016
- Turnover up 17pc to record €793m
- Dublin and Cork providing 97pc of passenger growth in Republic; 80pc on island
- British traffic tipped to fall 3pc-5pc; Middle East to pick up with 15pc growth
The Dublin Airport Authority has said that the controversial new North Runway project is vital to the Irish economy, with DAA CEO Kevin Toland arguing that “it’s critical to our economy and we want to get it up and running as quickly as possible”.
Delivering his last set of annual results before he moves to bakery giant Aryzta, Mr Toland added: “Dublin is an artery of our economy and we want the economy to grow. That artery is clogged right now.” He added that the airport is at peak capacity “87pc of the time from 5am till midnight”.
He said “we have planning permission [for the runway]from 2007”, but added that restrictive conditions are a stumbling block. One, which caps the number of night flights to 65, would mean turning away airlines and passengers, he said. “It’s like having a traffic jam on the M50 and looking out on a free, empty lane,” he said.
The runway project is also facing legal challenges, which he can’t comment on, but Mr Toland believes that another issue – a new EU regulation on noise – won’t be an issue, adding: “Ninety-five percent of the planes using Dublin are the quietest type”. The current runway is being upgraded nightly, he said, saying “we’re resurfacing it 150 metres a month over the next 18 months”.
Kevin Toland said that “I look at an airport as a factory to move people with planes”, and said Dublin had added “40 new parking stands last year”. Given the capacity demands, he defended moves to transfer more passengers by bus to planes, saying: “Dublin is the most under-bused airport in Europe”, adding that six goes and busing lounges had been added.
The buses strategy and the development of airport land for business have both been attacked by pilots’ union IALPA, but Mr Toland argued: “We’re running a business – not a trade union – that represents customers”, and added that developing airport lands is standard practice elsewhere.
The DAA has started the tender process for a new 402-bedroom hotel which will be linked to the terminals, and the CEO said the new runway, a masterplan and managing capacity are key priorities for 2017.
He said that while Brexit is a concern, the DAA would be looking to use it to its advantage. The airport welcomed 19 new routes in 2016, with 12 more this year. “We will have 24 long haul routes this year,” Mr Toland said, “and 38 expansions in frequency this year”. A total of 1.2m passengers were using the airport for transit flights, and Mr Toland said that with key British airports “going to be gridlocked for some time”, Dublin was scooping up British passengers bound for North America as it had 24 routes to British cities, while Heathrow had only eight or nine.
On Cork, he said that “people forget that Cork is our second biggest airport in this country by a distance. It’s twice as big as Shannon, with 2.2m compared to 1.2m.”
He said while only 30pc of traffic using Cork was inbound, that figure has now risen to 43pc. However, he said that while Cork has welcomed its first transatlantic service, via Iceland, with WOW, the preclearance facilities enjoyed by its Shannon rival is a non-runner for Cork. “We’ve looked at it, but it makes no business sense”, he said, adding that other airports, including Madrid and Stockholm, are looking for precelearance, and would be well ahead in the queue with the US authorities either way.
On his Midwest rival, he said: “Shannon has a long list of historical reasons for having it [preclearance], and we wish them well with it.”