DAA chief owns shares in 12 airlines operating out of Dublin Airport, Oireachtas hears

Kenny Jacobs tells transport committee owning the shares not a conflict of interest

Kenny Jacobs, chief executive of DAA: 'I think owning 12 – not owning one or two in particular – I don’t think is a conflict.' Photograph: Tommy Dickson

DAA chief executive Kenny Jacobs has a portfolio of shares in 12 airlines that operate out of Dublin Airport, he told an Oireachtas Committee on Wednesday.

Mr Jacobs was responding to questions from Duncan Smith, the Labour Party’s spokesman on transport, about his former role as chief marketing officer of Ryanair.

Like many public companies, Ryanair rewards its executives with share-based remuneration, and when Mr Smith asked if Mr Jacobs still held any Ryanair stock he said, “I own stock in 12 airlines – including Ryanair – who operate in Dublin Airport.”

When asked if he believed there was a conflict of interest in holding such investments, Mr Jacobs said: “Given it’s 12 different airlines who are all customers of Dublin Airport, I don’t think it’s a conflict.


“I’ve always been involved in aviation, I’ve always been an investor in aviation. I think owning 12 – not owning one or two in particular – I don’t think is a conflict.”

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More than 40 airlines operate out of Dublin Airport. When The Irish Times asked the DAA which other airlines Mr Jacobs holds shares in, a spokesman said that “a return [containing his shareholdings] is made annually to the Standards in Public Office Commission”. He declined to say which other shares Mr Jacobs held,.

Mr Jacobs stepped down as chief marketing officer at Ryanair in June 2020. The airline’s annual reports from that period do not set out how many shares he held at the time he stepped down.

Mr Jacobs was appointed to the role of chief executive in November 2022 and formally took up the position in January 2023, replacing Dalton Philips. He is 18 months into a seven-year term.

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Mr Smith told The Irish Times, “For me there certainly seems a de facto conflict of interest here in that the head of the DAA, a semi-State body, has shares in private airlines, and that the operation of the DAA impacts the success or otherwise of those airlines.” He described the news as “a troubling revelation”.

State-owned DAA, which operates Dublin and Cork airports, states in its annual report that

directors at the DAA are “required, in accordance with the provisions of section 34 of the 1998 Act and the code of practice, to disclose any relevant interest and absent themselves from board discussions where they have a direct or indirect interest”.