State-owned DAA may have to contribute to bailing out Dusseldorf airport

The German airport, in which DAA holds a 20% stake, may need an interest-free loan of €100m as it is running out of cash

DAA, which is responsible for Dublin and Cork airports, owns its shares in Dusseldorf airport through its subsidiary Aer Rianta International. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

DAA, which is responsible for Dublin and Cork airports, owns its shares in Dusseldorf airport through its subsidiary Aer Rianta International. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

State-owned DAA may have to contribute to bailing out financially-troubled Dusseldorf airport in Germany, in which the Irish company holds a 20 per cent stake.

DAA, which is responsible for Dublin and Cork airports, owns its shares in Dusseldorf through its subsidiary Aer Rianta International (ARI).

Local reports say that Dusseldorf airport may need an interest-free loan of €100 million from backers as it is running out of cash.

A DAA spokesman confirmed on Monday that the German airport was looking at refinancing in coming months following Covid-19 travel bans. “This could potentially involve a shareholder loan or equity,” he said.

The City of Dusseldorf owns 50 per cent of the airport, while several investors, including ARI, own the other half. All shareholders recently agreed to forego a dividend from Dusseldorf airport, totalling €63 million, to aid it through the coronavirus crisis.

Local media say that shareholders could be called on to follow this with the interest-free loan, which is likely to be for the longer term.

According to the same reports, there is political debate over efforts to rescue the airport. Stefan Engstfeld, a Green Party candidate for mayor of Dusseldorf, favours its rescue but opposes any future airport expansion.

Any request for support for Dusseldorf airport would come at a time when the DAA itself is attempting to cope with a dramatic fall in passenger numbers on the back of the pandemic. Global travel bans imposed in March slowed traffic to less than 10 per cent of normal levels over the succeeding months.

The State company expects a total of 21 million people to pass through Dublin and Cork airports next year, down from a high of 35.5 million in 2019.

Reduced demand

DAA employs a total of 3,500 people across both airports. It is seeking to cut this number to bring it in line with the expected reduced demand in Dublin and Cork.

The State company has not put a figure on the actual number of job cuts it is seeking, but the last time its airports handled 21 million passengers in a year they employed 1,000 fewer workers.

DAA is offering up to two years’ pay in voluntary redundancy deals to staff. Along with this it is also offering career breaks to workers wishing to avail of this option.

ARI manages retail and duty free businesses in airports in Europe, the Americas, Middle East and Asia Pacific.