Dublin Airport could lose 3 million passengers, incoming chairman warns

Basil Geoghegan says planning restrictions on third runway could be disastrous

Incoming chairman of DAA Basil Geoghegan

Incoming chairman of DAA Basil Geoghegan


Dublin Airport could lose up to three million passengers if the planning conditions attached to its new third runway plan are not reversed, the incoming chairman of DAA, the airport’s owner, has warned.

Basil Geoghegan told the Oireachtas transport committee that noise restrictions attached to the planning permission for a new runway to the north of the airport campus would result in an airport-wide reduction in the number of flights during the night and early morning, which is its busiest time of the day.

Dublin Airport currently has about 100 flights between 11pm and 7am every day.

However, Mr Geoghegan said the restrictions would cut this to 65 flights, causing “an immediate and hugely negative impact on flights, jobs and connectivity for Ireland”.

“The airport could lose up to three million passengers in the first year due to the restrictions,” he told the committee.

Cost 17,000 jobs

“By 2037 the restrictions are estimated to cost the Irish economy over 17,000 jobs – that’s a greater level of employment than currently offered by the combined operations of Apple, Dell, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft in Ireland, ” he said.

The Government has said that establishing the new noise regime is a priority, but Mr Geoghegan said without the enabling legislation and an appropriate amount of time, “there is a real risk of the undesirable situation crystallising”.

“That would mean that despite having built a new runway, Dublin Airport would have fewer flights and reduced connectivity,” Mr Geoghegan said.

“In my view, as a country we have a great opportunity with the north runway to be on the front foot and to show how we can develop our infrastructure efficiently and quickly,” he said.

The former banker and lawyer, who is currently a partner with global advisory firm PJT Partners, which has provided consultancy to several airlines, was asked if his other work constituted a conflict of interest.

“We would never accept any business that was going to put us either as a firm or any member of our firm in an individually conflicted position, so we will absolutely address that,” he said.

Mr Geoghegan said Dublin Airport’s existing main runway was operating at capacity at peak times and the new runway was vital to allow the Irish economy to continue to grow.

Brexit upheaval

The DAA plans to award the main construction contract for the new runway in the autumn, with construction due to be completed by early 2021.

The “North Runway” plan was announced in April 2016, and since then DAA has held more than 125 meetings with about 1,500 local residents, either individually or as part of residents’ groups.

Mr Mr Geoghegan also noted that as the plan proceeds, the State is facing the potential upheaval with Brexit.

“Planning our way through Brexit, and optimising daa for the post-Brexit environment, is a vital endeavour,” he said.

Fiona Ross, incoming chairwoman of CIÉ, told the committee that bolstering public transport could play a significant role in helping to offset the growth in greenhouse gas emissions that inevitably occurs as economic activity intensifies.