Ryanair in standoff with Dublin Airport over aircraft parking charges

Airport owner DAA accused of ‘profiteering’ from planes grounded due to Covid-19

Published figures indicate that Ryanair is paying €180 a day to keep each of 33 craft parked in Dublin Airport. Photograph: iStock

Published figures indicate that Ryanair is paying €180 a day to keep each of 33 craft parked in Dublin Airport. Photograph: iStock

 

Ryanair is demanding that Dublin Airport axe parking charges on aircraft grounded there by the Covid-19 crisis.

Published figures indicate that the airline is paying €180 a day to keep each of 33 craft parked in Dublin Airport, a total of €5,940.

Eddie Wilson, chief executive of Ryanair Designated Activity Company, the largest division within the Irish airline group, demanded that the Government ensure that Dublin Airport owner, State company DAA, cancel these charges for all carriers.

“It is wrong that State-owned Dublin Airport should be allowed profiteer from customers whose aircraft have been grounded by Government travel bans,” Mr Wilson argued.

A Dublin Airport spokesman said that Ryanair’s claims had no basis in fact. He maintained that the company had taken many steps to aid airlines despite challenges posed to its business by the loss of 99 per cent of its passenger traffic.

“Dublin Airport is giving a 93 per cent discount on parking charges for narrow-bodied aircraft such as those operated by Ryanair,” he added.

“Those aircraft are parked in a safe and secure location, offering Ryanair staff ready access to their planes when required.”

Dublin Airport’s spokesman noted that it had halved runway movement charges for all cargo flights.

While travel restrictions have largely grounded airlines’ passenger fleets, the Republic’s airports remain open for cargo and other necessary flights.

Engineer licences

Meanwhile, Brexit prompted an increase in the number of British aircraft engineers seeking licences from the State’s air travel safety regulator, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

According to the regulator’s annual report, the number of engineer’s licences it issued grew 42.1 per cent to more than 2,500 last year.

IAA chief executive Peter Kearney said in the report that while not all of this could be attributed to Brexit, the UK’s decision to leave the EU was “undoubtedly a significant contributor to the increase”.

An Irish aircraft engineer’s licence allows the holder to work in all EU countries, or to work on craft registered within the bloc, which has a common air travel safety regime.

British engineers began seeking IAA licences in 2019 as they feared that UK-issued permits would no longer qualify them to work on EU-registered craft after Brexit.

“The implications of Brexit continued to generate increased applications to the IAA in 2019 from UK-based individuals (aircrew and engineer licensing) and organisations (maintenance and air operations),” Mr Kearney said.

Revenue

The IAA governs safety, air traffic control, navigation through Irish air space and jointly with its British equivalent over a large area of the north Atlantic. The authority earns revenue by charging airlines for these services.

The authority’s annual report shows that net assets fell almost €21 million last year to €215.6 million, mainly due to an €89.1 million increase in the regulator’s pension liabilities. Total pension liabilities at the end of the year stood at €698.5 million.

During the year, the IAA paid €19.5 million in dividends to the State, its shareholder. This was made up of a €7.5 million payout and a €12 million special dividend agreed with the Government.

Pretax profits fell 14 per cent last year to €32.8 million from €37.8 million in 2018. This was mainly due to a fall in interest payments to €13.3 million in 2019 from €18.9 million in 2018. Turnover dipped to €197 million from €199 million.