Restrictions on new runway would be ‘catastrophic’, says DAA chief

Dublin Airport’s €320m third runway is ‘most important thing Ireland will build’

DAA wants the Government to relax noise restrictions at Dublin Airport so it can overturn planning conditions attached to  the new runway. Photograph: Kate Geraghty

DAA wants the Government to relax noise restrictions at Dublin Airport so it can overturn planning conditions attached to the new runway. Photograph: Kate Geraghty

 

Dublin Airport will “overnight” lose 2.4 million passengers – 8 per cent of its annual total – unless planning conditions attached to its new third runway are relaxed, according to Dalton Philips, chief executive the airport’s owner DAA.

Mr Philips told a media results briefing on Wednesday that this would be “cataostrophic” for Ireland’s economy.

He wants the Government to quickly pass new laws relaxing noise restrictions at airports, to help it to overturn the planning conditions attached to the €320 million new runway, on which building work is due to begin later this year.

Two conditions attached to the planning permission for the new runway mean its use would be prohibited between 11pm and 7am, and that nightly aircraft “movements” at the airport are restricted to 65.

Currently, Mr Philips said, there are 120 movements nightly at the airport. The more restrictive regime would kick in if the runway construction goes ahead without changes to the law.

The Government says changing the law is a priority, but Mr Philips said this needs to happen this year to allow it build the runway in time before its planning permission runs out.

‘Most important thing’

Mr Philips, a former Brown Thomas chief executive who took over DAA in October, said the new runway is “the most important thing that Ireland will build in a generation”.

“North Runway will be Ireland’s new path to the world, and will help position the country to compete globally in a post-Brexit environment,” he said.

“It will underpin the growth of Irish tourism, trade and foreign direct investment for the benefit of the entire country.”

Mr Philips said the restrictions would cost 14,700 jobs within 20 years as operations during busy periods at night and first thing in the morning would be restricted.

He was speaking as DAA, which operates Dublin and Cork airports, increased profit after tax before exceptional items by 16 per cent last year to €125 million.

DAA said the increase was driven by higher passenger numbers, increased commercial income and growth in DAA’s overseas businesses.

Turnover was up 8 per cent to €855 million. Operating costs increased by 7 per cent to €409 million as DAA recruited 200 additional staff and invested in new structures to boost long-term growth at its travel retail business.

Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport increased by 6 per cent to a record 29.6 million last year. At Cork, passenger growth increased by 3.5 per cent to more than 2.3 million last year.

DAA is to pay a dividend of €37.4 million to the State in respect of 2017, bringing its total dividend payments to €85 million over the past three years.

DAA invested €174 million at Dublin Airport last year upgrading passenger and airfield facilities. A further €280 million capital investment plan for the airport is currently being considered by the Commission for Aviation Regulation.

DAA is currently finalising a “masterplan” for Dublin Airport which will consider the developments needed to allow the airport to grow to enable it to handle 50 million passengers per year by the 2040s.