DAA should build and manage any new terminal at Dublin Airport, and it should start planning for it now, according to Enda Corneille, Emirates airline's manager in Ireland.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross is considering whether an independent player rather than DAA, the State airport company, should run any new terminal at the Republic's biggest gateway.
Mr Corneille said on Wednesday, however, that independently run airport terminals “have not got a great record” unless airlines themselves own them. He warned that Dublin needed to build a new terminal, or add to either of its existing two, to cope with the extra traffic that would come with its planned new runway. “Our view is that it should be built by the DAA and managed by the DAA,” he said. “If you have one of those terminals independently run, we do not believe it would be cost effective.”
He argued that the State could not afford to take any risks with infrastructure as significant as a terminal at its biggest airport. Mr Ross told an industry gathering last week that it should not rule out the possibility that a private company could own a third terminal at Dublin Airport.
Mr Corneille said he believed that, without another terminal, Dublin Airport would face real bottlenecks at key times, such as the early morning, after opening the new runway, in 2021. He said DAA should not delay boosting capacity, as doing the work after the extra business arrived would only increase the cost. Airport infrastructure had to be built for the next 30 years, he said, and short-term trends should not influence decisions.
Dublin Airport confirmed that DAA planned to add capacity to cater for the new runway. “To address potential bottlenecks we will deliver new boarding-gate areas and extra aircraft parking stands. Over time we will also extend or reconfigure both of the existing passenger terminals,” a spokesman said.
He added that DAA believed it could develop Dublin Airport to handle 50 million passengers a year by the 2040s without building a new terminal. The spokesman pledged that the company would continue to consult Emirates and all its customer airlines.
Emirates' Irish business faces increased competition from next month, when Cathay Pacific will begin flying to Hong Kong and Hainan Airlines will start a route to Beijing, both from Dublin. The Gulf carrier serves the Far East from Dublin through its Dubai hub.
Mr Corneille said business so far this year is 5 to 10 percentage points ahead of 2017 but his company expected the new services to have an impact. “New competitors tend to grow the market and take a share of it,” he noted. “It’s really about defending your position and then trying to grow it.”
Emirates flies twice a day from Dublin to Dubai. It grew passenger numbers by 9 per cent last year and sold 80 per cent of the seats on its aircraft despite new competition from Qatar Airways.