Dublin Aerospace plans to double workforce at newly opened Meath base

Conor McCarthy says Emerald Airlines bidding for Dublin-Donegal public service route

Conor McCarthy, chief executive,said Dublin Aerospace began ‘in adversity’ in 2009 during the global financial crisis and had grown ever since. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Conor McCarthy, chief executive,said Dublin Aerospace began ‘in adversity’ in 2009 during the global financial crisis and had grown ever since. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

Aircraft maintenance specialist Dublin Aerospace is hiring workers for its operations in the capital and Co Meath.

The Dublin Airport-based business recently began overhauling aircraft landing gear at a new base in Ashbourne, Co Meath.

Speaking at the facility’s official opening on Tuesday, chief executive Conor McCarthy said the company planned to double the workforce there to 150 over the next two to three years.

Mr McCarthy said that Dublin Aerospace had taken on 12 trainees in the landing gear operation, with a further 12 aircraft mechanics at the airport, while it has also hired 20 apprentices.

He noted the company hired 25 apprentices in September last year, despite the pandemic’s impact on air travel. “We had 1,200 applications for those positions,” Mr McCarthy added. “There are a lot of jobs chasing people, but we have kept our foot on the pedal in relation to training,” he said.

Emerald Airlines

Mr McCarthy predicted that his other business, Emerald Airlines, could begin operating the Aer Lingus Regional franchise early next year. He confirmed that the carrier was bidding for the Dublin-to-Donegal public service route, which receives Government support.

“If we succeed, I would hope that it would be February 2022, probably later in the month, that we could be operating in the Aer Lingus colours,” he said.

Emerald has already taken delivery of its first two ATR aircraft and has begun offering charter services.

Speaking at the opening, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government was confident the EU would give state aid approval for the €90 million that it has earmarked to support air travel’s recovery. The Government intends that airports should use the cash to offer discounts or rebates to airlines to lure them back to restore pre-Covid routes.

“We are confident that we will get state aid approval as we are not doing anything different from what other member states have done,” Mr Varadkar said.

The money is part of an overall €126 million that the Government pledged for air travel in Budget 2022.

‘Incredible’ success

Dublin Aerospace invested €12 million in the Ashbourne facility, aided by State development agency, Enterprise Ireland. Mr McCarthy remarked that the business began “in adversity” in 2009 during the global financial crisis.

Dublin Aerospace began with 18 staff and now employs more than 500 people across Dublin Airport, Ashbourne and Exeter in England, where it bought part of Flybe’s maintenance business last year.

Specialising in landing gear for Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s, some of the most commonly used aircraft in the world, the Meath plant has scope for up to 350 individual overhauls a-year.

Enterprise Ireland executive director Stephen Creaner described Dublin Aerospace as an “incredible” success. “Even during the pandemic, when the aviation sector was badly hit, Dublin Aerospace continued to deliver on its ambitions,” he said.

He confirmed that Enterprise Ireland continued to work closely with the company as it added customers from Europe, the Middle East, the US, Africa and Russia.

Mr Varadkar acknowledged that air travel was one of the businesses worst hit by Covid-19.

“The Government has tried to help aviation firms get through it with wage subsidies and rates waivers,” he said.

Mr McCarthy said that Government support helped Dublin Aerospace maintain jobs through the crisis.