IDA chief warns of investment hit if Dublin runway restrictions not lifted

Authority warns restrictions could reduce economic capacity and hinder growth in FDI

IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan has expressed concern that restrictions on Dublin Airport's new €320 million runway could hinder foreign direct investment (FDI) growth here.

The IDA submission is part of a surge of submissions lodged with Fingal County Council on the runway issue, with some of the worlds's largest airlines registering their support for DAA's application to have two planning restrictions on the 2007 permission for the north runway lifted.

Some 13 carriers, including Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Qatar Air, AirFrance/KLM, Emirates, Etihad Air, Stobart Air and Ireland's newest airline, Emerald Airlines, have written to the council to support DAA's application.

The planning conditions specify that the runway will not be used at night between 11pm and 7am and that night-time operations not exceed 65 flights on average when it is complete.


The runway is expected to be operational next year and DAA is seeking that the new 3.1km runway be used between 6am and midnight and that a noise quota system, which applies at airports such as Heathrow, Brussels and Madrid would be used to dictate the number of night-time flights.

Fingal County Council had received 161 submissions by mid-afternoon on Monday, the closing date for parties to contact it on the matter.

Mr Shanahan warned that the operating restrictions could “reduce economic capacity and hinder growth in FDI by unduly restricting a key infrastructure asset”.

He also said the restrictions could disrupt cargo operations and negatively impact route development and the rebuilding of Ireland’s international connectivity.

Investment decisions

Aer Lingus's director of corporate affairs, Niall Timlin, told the council that it has investment plans for its Dublin base and "a failure to amend the current restrictions in their current format will undermine future investment decisions at Dublin Airport which has the potential to create a downward spiral of reducing passenger numbers and spiralling costs".

On behalf of Ryanair, Ray Ryan of BMA Planning told the council that in a post-Brexit, post-Covid world, Ryanair believes that rather than “being unreasonably restricted by outdated assumptions”, the north runway represents an opportunity to increase operational flexibility and provide capacity at two key times in the early morning and late evening “which is critical for the competitiveness and connectivity of Dublin Airport and for Ryanair’s business”.

Mr Ryan has described the planned current restrictions on the permission as a “blunt instrument which has significant and disproportionate impacts”, adding that Ryanair plans to invest more than $20 billion in a fleet of new Boeing 737 Max aircraft that would cut noise emissions by 40 per cent.

Femke Kroes, commercial director for Air France/KLM UK and Ireland, told the council that “close to 50 per cent of our revenues in Ireland comes from early departure and late outbound flights, therefore connectivity is key”.

A decision on the application is due next month.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times