DAA warns Dublin Airport could take five years to recover pre-Covid traffic

Chairman of DAA says planning delays should not curtail Dublin’s operations as it bids to recover from Covid

The lifting of night-time flight restrictions on Dublin airport's new runway, imposed by An Bord Pleanála in 2007, could make the airport "a very exciting place for carriers who are using new technology," says DAA chair designate Basil Geoghegan.

 

Dublin Airport could take up to five years to recover pre-Covid levels of traffic, Basil Geoghegan, chairman of the State company DAA, told politicians on Wednesday.

Ireland’s biggest airport handled a record 32.9 million passengers in 2019, but pandemic travel curbs cut that by more than 70 per cent, leaving its parent, DAA, with a €284 million loss last year.

Addressing the Oireachtas Transport and Communications Committee, Mr Geoghegan said the airport would handle half its 2019 total this year, while it would take up to five years to recover the lost ground.

“Some airlines have been very much on the front foot because they have lower costs; we’ve seen that in Dublin with Ryanair, ” he said. However, higher-cost carriers were more reluctant to risk putting on flights without being sure of a return.

“And some airlines do not exist in the way that they did before,” Mr Geoghegan said. “Some airlines are in chapter 11;, many of them have very high levels of debt.”

He stressed that planning delays should not curtail Dublin’s operations as it bids to recover.

Mr Geoghegan noted that DAA Dublin Airport was seeking to change planning conditions attached to its new runway that could limit night-time flights.

“It s now important that the statutory process reaches a speedy conclusion and that we do not see unintended curtailment of operations at Dublin Airport as a result of procedural delays, even as we seek to rebuild connectivity post-Covid,” he said.

An Bord Pleanála limited night-time flights across Dublin Airport as a condition of granting permission for its new north runway, due to open in August. DAA is appealing this to Dublin Airport’s noise regulator, Fingal County Council.

Aircraft manufacturers have made significant progress with noise-reduction technology since planners imposed the conditions in 2007. This is one of several factors that Fingal County Council will have to weigh when it is considering DAA’s case.