DAA’s plans for Dublin Airport remain grounded

Aer Lingus and Ryanair have told the regulator that facilities at Dublin Airport can be improved while passenger charges are also cut

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Transport Shane Ross perform the official sod-turning for Dublin Airport’s new north runway project in February 2019.  With them is  DAA chief executive Dalton Philips. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Transport Shane Ross perform the official sod-turning for Dublin Airport’s new north runway project in February 2019. With them is DAA chief executive Dalton Philips. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

In broad terms Dublin Airport’s two biggest customers, Aer Lingus and Ryanair, support the notion that State-owned DAA will have enough cash to fund development there and cut its passenger charges.

DAA intends spending €1.8 billion on new facilities at Dublin, such as aircraft stands and boarding gates, that are needed to ease current bottlenecks and allow the airport cater for up to 40 million passengers a year.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR), which determines what DAA can charge airlines for flying passengers from Dublin, wants the airport operator to cut these levies by 22 per cent to €7.50 a head for the 2020 to 2024 period.

DAA argues that this would mean cutting its spending plans by €500 million to €1 billion. When DAA revealed these plans last autumn it pointed out that airlines sought the facilities as growth at the airport was already stretching capacity.

In responses published on Monday, Aer Lingus and Ryanair indicate that they believe the airport’s infrastructure can be improved while passenger charges are also cut. However, both take different approaches after that.

Aer Lingus’s submission support’s CAR’s broad position. Ryanair, which hired consultants York Aviation to advice on its submission, believes that the DAA could cut the cost of its plans by €400 million, and argues that the State company does not need all the projects included in its proposals.

Interestingly, they both back something CAR calls “stage-gate” in its initial document proposing the passenger charge cut. This is a phased system overseen by an independent financial surveyor whose would ensure that DAA finishes each stage of its project on time and on budget, before getting approval for the next stage.

The CAR will not make a final decision until October. Until then initial work that had started at Dublin Airport, which DAA halted in June, will remain paused. What happens after that appears to depend on the regulator’s final ruling. For now DAA’s expansion plan for Dublin is grounded.

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