Dublin Airport passenger cap not breached last year in spite of data showing 33.2m used its facilities

Official figures include travellers not covered by planning limit

Dublin Airport did not breach the 32 million passenger cap last year despite official figures showing that more than 33 million people passed through there last year, according to numbers published by its operator, State-owned DAA.

Planners have limited passengers travelling to and from the airport to 32 million as a condition of allowing it to expand and open the north runway, angering airlines including Ryanair and Aer Lingus.

Figures from the State’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) published on Thursday show that almost 33,260,000 passengers used the airport in 2023.

However, those numbers included passengers transferring from one flight to another at the airport, and transit passengers, who do not disembark while their aircraft is stopped at Dublin.


The cap applies to neither group, as the limit only covers those who are entering and leaving its terminals. Similarly, the total figure includes sea rescue and other emergency passengers who are landed at the airport, and to whom the limit does not apply either.

DAA did not comment directly on the CSO figures, but totals that it published earlier this year maintain that Dublin Airport did not exceed the limit.

According to DAA, 31.9 million people travelled through Dublin’s terminals, while there were more than 1 million connecting passengers and more than 500,000 “other passengers”, a category that includes sea rescue and other emergencies.

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DAA last year asked Fingal County Council, its local planning authority, to increase the cap to 40 million, but that process could take two years, according to some observers, as any decision could face an appeal.

The cap drew strong criticism from Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary, who called on Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to lift the limit or resign earlier this year.

Aer Lingus chief executive Lynne Embleton last year described the limit as the Republic shooting itself in the foot.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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