Part of Dublin Airport could go private

Study to look at allowing independent player to run a third terminal at Dublin Airport

There now seems to be some realistic chance that private enterprise will run any third terminal at Dublin Airport in competition with the existing facilities operated by State-owned DAA.

Yesterday the Department of Transport sought tenders for consultants to carry out a review of likely demand at the three State-owned airports, Cork, Dublin and Shannon, to 2050.

Whichever firm is hired will have to consider not just when Dublin should get a third terminal but to consider the advantages and disadvantages of allowing an independent player to run the new facility over the DAA.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said his department was going to commission the study this year rather than in 2018, when it was originally due to be carried out, because of the growth at the airports, and particularly in Dublin which is set to shatter last year's record of 25 million passengers.


You do not have to look far to see from where he might have taken the idea of getting an independent operator to run terminal three should it be built. Last July his department published a report by economic consultants Indecon which suggested that any new facility at the capital's airport should compete with the existing terminals.

Indecon’s logic was that competition within the airport could help lessen the need for Dublin to be regulated and lead to lower charges for airlines, and thus a better deal for passengers.

Dublin is far bigger than any other airport in the country, State-owned or otherwise, so the Commission for Aviation Regulation regulates its charges. Given that it has more than 80 per cent of the Republic's air passengers, it is unlikely that Cork or Shannon will ever close the gap.

Thus the only other alternative is for Dublin to compete with itself. Nobody knows just how realistic a proposal that is, but Indecon thought it was at least worth considering and it now looks like Ross agrees.