Planning restrictions on Dublin Airport’s proposed new €320 million runway could cost more than 17,000 jobs, according to its head of communications.
The airport's operator, State company DAA, is building a second runway to the north of the existing one, but wants planners to alter conditions limiting night-time flights there to 65.
DAA’s chief communications officer, Paul O’Kane, warned on Thursday that the restriction could mean 17,400 jobs that could be created by the new runway by 2017 will not materialise.
"That's more jobs than the current combined employment of Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Dell in the Republic of Ireland, " Mr O'Kane told a British Irish Chamber of Commerce Brexit seminar.
DAA’s estimates of the potential impact on job creation are based on calculations provided by consultants Inter Vista, who say that the runway will create 3,000 direct jobs at the airport itself and a further 1,800 indirectly.
The spin off from the direct and indirect jobs should create work for a further 2,300 people while the extra traffic, trade and tourism generated by the new runway should translate to 10,300 new posts, the consultants say.
DAA intends appealing the condition along with other restrictions while the runway is being built. It has begun preliminary work on the site and is due to award the construction contract this year.
The airport manager estimates that the cost will be about €320 million, but the actual bill will depend on whatever deal it agrees with the company that it hires to build the facility.
An Bord Pleanála imposed the conditions when granting permission for the runway in 2007 but they will not apply until the strip actually opens in 2021.
There are already more than 100 flights in and out of Dublin between the hours of 11pm and 6am, when the restriction will apply.
DAA chief executive, Kevin Toland, recently said enforcing the condition would be like adding a new lane to the M50 motorway, but closing it during rush hour.
When the State company said last year that it would get the planning permission for the runway extended, it also confirmed that it wanted the restrictions lifted as they cover the early morning, one of the airport’s busiest periods.
Mr Toland has pointed out that if the cap is enforced, the airport will have to turn away significant numbers of flights and passengers, rendering the new runway redundant.
The restriction is meant to limit noise, a problem that the airport company says can be addressed through new EU rules that are due to become part of Irish law over the next year.
However, locals and a group called Friends of the Irish Environmental recently began High Court challenges to Fingal County Council's decision to extend the runway's planning permission.
The court will hear the cases in October. Ryanair, Dublin Airport's biggest airline customer, was joined as a notice party to the actions, along with the DAA.