About one-in-four flights at Ireland’s biggest airport are delayed, according to figures released recently, prompting concern among airlines about a squeeze on facilities there.
A league table of on-time performance published monthly by air travel information company OAG shows that Dublin Airport slid to number 1,083 of 1,200 airports worldwide in June from 931 during the same month in 2017.
OAG shows that last month 58.9 per cent of flights took off on time, which it interprets as within 15 minutes of scheduled departure, implying that more than 40 per cent were delayed.
Dublin Airport’s own punctuality report for June shows that overall, 60 per cent of flights were not delayed last month, compared with 68.3 per cent during the same period in 2017.
A breakdown of Dublin’s numbers show that 57.5 per cent of flights from terminal one were on time, while 63.5 per cent of those from terminal two took off as scheduled.
Dublin Airport's owner, the State company, DAA, uses the same criteria as OAG, that on-time means within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure.
One international carrier says that the main problem lies between the airport's departure gates and the runway
Airlines pinpoint several causes for the delays, including strains on facilities produced by the rapid growth in passengers, which touched 30 million at Dublin last year.
That figure was almost 60 per cent more than the 18.7 million people who passed through the airport in 2011. The period 2014 to 2017 accounted for most of that growth; passenger numbers swelled by 47 per cent alone during those years.
One international carrier says that the main problem lies between the airport’s departure gates and the runway. Large numbers of craft have to queue on taxiways for long periods waiting for their turn to take off.
That company maintains that the quicker Dublin Airport builds its proposed new runway, the faster it will deal with the delays that airlines and passengers there currently suffer.
At the weekend, Aer Lingus, one of Dublin's biggest customers, said it was concerned at the airport's "deteriorating on-time performance statistics", for which it blamed an infrastructure deficit. "We have relayed those concerns to both DAA and the regulator," the airline added.
Ryanair, the airport's largest airline, indicated that it continued to support construction of Dublin's new runway. The carrier pointed out that an "alarming" slide in Europe's air traffic control services caused knock-on delays throughout the region's airports in May, June and July.
"In May alone, over 117,000 flights across Europe were delayed with 61 per cent (over 71,000 flights) as a result of air traffic control staff shortages and air traffic control strikes," Ryanair said.
It and other airlines have called on the European Commission and national governments to take immediate steps to prevent a "full meltdown" in air traffic control services.
DAA questioned where OAG obtained its figures, but acknowledged that June was particularly bad, with air traffic control strikes in France causing 580 hours of delays in that month alone.
The airport owner said late arrivals from other airports, resulting in knock-on hold-ups in Dublin, were another bar to punctual take-offs.
DAA said that its overall on-time performance in June was 60 per cent, while 74 per cent of flights during the first wave of departures each day left on time.
So far this year, 74 per cent of flights have taken off on time, including 80 per cent of the first wave.