The operator of Dublin Airport insisted it is not running “a county fair” as it took aim at Ryanair after the airline suggested it open land it owns around the facility as a temporary car park during the peak summer months to deal with capacity issues.
Dublin Airport warned passengers travelling last weekend that all 23,000 car parking spaces were sold out, and advised those who have not booked a space to consider taking public transport. Airport operator DAA claimed that failure to sanction a new car parking facility was behind the problem. It has placed a successful bid to purchase the currently-closed Quick Park facility, but that move is now under review by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), which must approve the deal.
“The DAA is mismanaging car parking deliberately, in our view, so that they can pressure the CCPC to award them monopoly control over the QuickPark car park, which is the only competing car park at Dublin Airport,” Ryanair said in a statement on Friday. “The DAA owns lots of land immediately surrounding Dublin Airport, which could be opened as a temporary car park at very short notice, releasing pressure on Dublin Airport car parking and, more importantly, keeping the cost of car parking low for customers.”
A spokesman for DAA rejected the idea as “simplistic nonsense”, pointing out the operator was not running “a county fair”.
“Car parking requires infrastructure which requires planning permission,” he said. “We are running the fifth largest transatlantic hub airport in Europe, not a county fair.”
However, Ryanair accused the DAA of “regulatory gaming” and called on the competition watchdog to reject its bid for the QuickPark car park. “The DAA claims that its car parks are full as a reason to pressure the CCPC to wave through approval of its monopoly grab for the QuickPark car park,” it said, adding that the regulator should also reduce airport fees at the facility.
In response, DAA said it was “far from being a monopoly” and does not set its own charges as it is a regulated business, “unlike airlines who do set their own fares which have risen 30 per cent in the past year”.
“We offer ultra-low-cost charges at Dublin Airport, the lowest of any capital city airport in Europe, which are set to decrease by 30 per cent presently. Hence why we are seeking a modest increase of a couple of euro to operate a resilient airport and reduce our maximum queue times even further to under 15 minutes by hiring even more security staff than the more than 800 we currently employ.
“We leave airlines, including a world class operator like Ryanair, to run their very profitable businesses while we continue to invest in vital strategic infrastructure to connect Ireland to the world.”
In addition, Ryanair said security queues issue at Dublin Airport last summer were “a direct result of DAA mismanagement”.
“DAA’s recent claim that it needs a price increase to fix staffing shortages in its security operation are false,” it said. “The DAA has already received excessive price increases under the regulatory system in Ireland, yet despite this booming income it still mismanaged security staffing in Dublin in 2022.”
The DAA spokesman said its focus was on ensuring that everyone has a positive passenger experience at its airports over the busy summer months ahead. “We have had a very stable operation at Dublin Airport for several months now, with over 90 per cent of our passengers going through a resilient security operation in less than 20 minutes,” he said.
Ryanair also accused Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan of “going missing” and being “asleep at the wheel”, adding he should order DAA to withdraw from the process for the QuickPark car park.