DAA warns final ruling on new runway restrictions could drift to 2024

Even if decision goes in operator’s favour, runway could be at reduced capacity until 2025

Work taking place on Dublin Airport’s new runway. The main construction works began in February 2019.

Work taking place on Dublin Airport’s new runway. The main construction works began in February 2019.

 

State-owned airport operator DAA has warned that its long-running efforts to ease flight restrictions attached to the new €320 million Dublin runway due to open next year may not be finally decided until early 2024.

It also highlighted, in an investor prospectus for a recent €150 million bond sale, that even if An Bord Pleanála ultimately decides in the airport operator’s favour, the runway could still end up running at reduced capacity out to 2025. Still, the DAA said in the document that “aviation sources” do not see international air transport recovering to pre-Covid levels until 2024 or later.

The main construction works on the new runway commenced in February 2019, based on planning permission secured in 2007 for 10 years and subsequently extended by a further five years to August 2022. The runway is nearing completion and, following a commissioning and testing phase, it will be operation from the summer of next year.

DAA submitted a planning application with Fingal County Council (FCC) last December to lift certain conditions attached to the original 2007 approval, including a ban on take-off or landings between 11pm and 7am on the new runway. It is also seeking to ease a stipulated restriction that all aircraft movements at the airport be limited to 65 between the same hours once the new runway is in operation.

“In the absence of a planning determination before August 2022, the date that the 2007 planning permission expires, the new parallel runway would become operational with the onerous conditions in place for the period up to when a determination is received from FCC,” the airport operator noted in the prospectus.

‘Uncertainty’

DAA said that it expects a decision in the third quarter of next year. “If the decision is appealed by a third party, as expected, a decision from the appeal board, An Bord Pleanála, is anticipated in quarter 1, 2024.

“This uncertainty could have an adverse impact on the group’s ability to plan for the deployment of capacity at Dublin Airport. These conditions could result in a period, potentially up to quarter one, 2025, where Dublin Airport would be forced to operate at a reduced capacity for certain times of the day.”

Scores of north Dublin residents are objecting to DAA’s proposals and the impact the noise from night-time flights will have on their residential amenity.

However, the airline industry has thrown its weight in support of the plans with 15 carriers including Dublin Airport’s two main customers, Ryanair and Aer Lingus, offering their support.

IDA Ireland and Ibec have also voiced their support for the lifting of the restrictions, while Dublin Chamber said that the current restrictions would “inhibit growth and damage the airport’s competitive reputation”.

Business Today

Get the latest business news and commentarySIGN UP HERE