New runway more critical than terminal says Dublin airport boss

DAA chief executive Dalton Philips says airport has growth capacity until early 2030s

Dalton Philips, chief executive of DAA

Dalton Philips, chief executive of DAA

 

Dublin airport does not need a new terminal, it needs a new runway, according to Dalton Philips, chief executive of the airport’s owner, DAA.

While the Government needs to look at the long term needs of the country, acknowledged Mr Philips, he added that Dublin airport has sufficient capacity until the early 2030s to allow for a growth of up to 45million passengers.

“For the next ten years we need a runway not a terminal. There is ample capacity there.”

The Wicklow native also told RTE’s Today with Miriam show that Ireland’s legislation in relation to drones is stronger than that of the UK and that the Irish Aviation Authority had taken steps to ensure security measures were in place.

Ireland’s airports have a 5km no fly zone for drones, while in the UK it is just 1km. “We think we have the right regulations, a lot of work has been done in this area, there is a lot of signage around the airport pointing out that flying drones there is illegal.

“There are a number of different measures in place, we are dealing with evolving technology. We have been on this for a year highlighting the risks and illegality of flying drones near the airport.”

Mr Philips spoke of the growth in passenger numbers at the airport which had increased 50 per cent in five years to 31 million last year.

“We are in a unique place on the globe. We can take advantage of new technology and attract customers crossing from Europe to the US.”

He also explained that the new runway at Dublin airport will be the first to be built at a major city in Europe in the last 20 years. There are some planning restrictions, he admitted and also flight restrictions at certain times of day and night.

“There is a 50 per cent reduction in flights between 6am and 7am, we’re already at a disadvantage because we are one hour behind Europe. Airlines need to get flights out early.”

He claimed that modern aircraft are quieter and that 95 per cent of the fleets of the two main airlines that use Dublin airport are Chapter Four aircraft which have the highest level of environmental technology.

Because of its location, 8km from the city, Dublin airport impacts a small number of people compared with other cities, he said. “Overall, relative to other capital cities, the airport is in a relatively rural environment.”

Dublin airport is already feeling the impact of Brexit. He admitted that he is very worried about the Dublin-UK routes, but he was relieved that flights will continue. “Flights will still be departing, there had been concerns.”

However, he was concerned that the sterling slide will have an impact on tourism with a drop in UK visitors.

He did not foresee any issues with the immigration process, but there would be a big impact on cargo and customs, he said.

“Our interaction with the Government has been very good. Coveney and his team have been doing a good job with something pretty nebulous.”

Mr Philips, who earned a pilots licence at the age of 19, told of how he loves his job and wished he had returned to Ireland sooner. Both his parents were pilots and his grandparents also had a great interest in aviation.

“I absolutely adore it (working at airport). My office looks out at the apron. We’re at the epicentre of the economic recovery in Ireland.

“This is a State owned entity with no funding from the State, it is stand alone, it is a good business. It is a well run business, we should be proud of the DAA and the role it takes and the contribution it makes to the country.”