Dublin Airport needs charges shake-up, says new DAA chief

Kenny Jacobs faces first Oireachtas committee on Wednesday

Dublin Airport passenger charges need to increase to maintain services, Kenny Jacobs, the new DAA chief executive, will tell politicians on Wednesday.

Almost 1.5 million people used the airport over Christmas, with virtually all of them making it through security in less than 30 minutes, while 93 per cent waited less than 20 minutes.

Mr Jacobs, who this month took the helm at the company that operates the airport, will warn the Joint Oireachtas Commitee on Transport and Communications, that Dublin needs sustainable prices to support consistent service.

DAA has already highlighted that a recent Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) ruling setting Dublin Airport’s passenger charges for the next four years “disallowed” the cost of hiring up 240 extra security officers needed there by 2026.


Mr Jacobs will argue that service standards demanded by passengers, airlines and politicians do not tally with what regulators will allow the airport to charge.

“We all want a Dublin Airport that is resilient and can grow and give passengers a better service,” he will say.

“If this is what we want, then it must be reflected in national aviation policy and the regulated price needs to go up.”

He will call for a shake-up of the system governing the airport’s charges based on what the industry learned from last summer’s bottlenecks.

Airports levy passenger charges on airlines. Regulators determine how much Dublin charges to ensure fair competition with smaller rivals in the Republic.

Last month the CAR set an €8.68 per passenger price cap for this year, with increases up to €11.73 in 2026.

DAA had sought €12.58 for 2023 – from €8.50 last year – with increases to €14.58 by 2026 to support investment.

European air fares rose 40 per cent in summer 2022 and could increase by half as much again this year.

In light of that, Mr Jacobs is set to argue that airports should not be expected to charge substantially less than what they did in 2019.

DAA has consistently pointed out that it is the lowest-cost airport in any European capital city, and is expected to emphasise this at Wednesday’s committee hearing.

The regulator’s ruling does not bar DAA from hiring the extra 240 security officers, but it cannot include the cost in its charges.

Consequently, the State airports company is likely to keep recruiting frontline staff.

However, if the charges do not cover the cost, this could hit financial commitments such as the dividends it pays the State.

DAA employs 645 security staff but intends to boost this to 800 before the summer to ensure it can cope with expected passenger numbers this year, which could equal 2019′s 32.9 million record.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas