Dublin Airport passenger numbers could hit 40m

Operator planning raft of infrastructural changes

The operator of Dublin Airport is projecting that potential passenger demand per year will hit 40 million between 2027 and 2031.

The “latest projections” provided by the DAA are contained in new planning documents associated with the operator’s plan for a €200 million tunnel under the 16/34 runway at Dublin Airport.

The planning documents outline a raft of other infrastructural developments at Dublin Airport that would be required to facilitate the airport’s anticipated rapid passenger growth over the remainder of this decade.

During Covid-19 passenger traffic at the airport collapsed to 7.4 million in 2020, it recovered to 8.46m last year, but was still some way off the record numbers of 32.9 million in 2019.


Anticipating a return to normal growth post-pandemic travel restrictions, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) lodged with the tunnel plan application outlines the infrastructure projects that will be required.

They include expanding the existing south landing apron with new remote stands, taxiways and a pre-boarding zone, and extending Pier One on the north landing apron to increase passenger capacity and the number of boarding gates.

The EIS also said that the new infrastructure would include additional aircraft stands, increase space internally at T1 by relocating security to the mezzanine level and internal changes to Pier 3 for pre-cleared US-bound passengers.

The planning documents said that the tunnel plan was “a stand alone proposal and is not reliant on future airport growth in order to be released, nor does future airport growth require the proposed development”.

The planning documents explain that the objective of the new tunnel is to replace the existing access to west apron which is no longer viable. The application said that the airport operations were primarily concentrated on the eastern campus and access to the west apron has become more difficult due to the opening of with the new North runway as the only access route now to the western campus and apron was the northern perimeter road.

“The Irish Aviation Authority requires on safety grounds that an alternative solution be put in place as soon as possible,” the documents said.

The application said that, once built and operational in 2025, the tunnel would only serve vehicles operating within the airfield.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times