Dublin Airport’s north runway will finally open on Wednesday 15 years after it first received planning permission and some 60 years after the potential need for it was suggested.
The project has been beset with planning difficulties since the-then Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) got planning permission in 2007 at the height of the Celtic Tiger period. It was to be built on a land bank set aside in the 1960s in the event of such a development being needed.
The north runway was first proposed in 2004 in anticipation that it would cater for the continuing boom in air traffic. However, the economic crash put the project on hold.
Originally the planning permission was for flights to run between 7am and 11pm, but that was amended to between 6am and midnight. More than 1,200 submissions were made to the Aircraft Noise Competent Authority about the project, with most objecting to the changes.
Some 300 houses affected by the new runway will be eligible for a €20,000 insulation grant to block out the noise.
The runway will cost €320 million, according to DAA spokesman Kevin Cullinane, who said: “It will open on time and on budget at no cost to the taxpayer.”
Construction began in December 2016 and, like many infrastructure projects, it was held up by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The runway is 3.1km long, comprises 300,000sqm of runway, is serviced by six kilometres of new roads and has 2,000 taxi lights for aircraft.
It is hoped the runway will result in a 31 per cent gain in connectivity for Dublin Airport by 2034, making it a vital hub for transatlantic travel.
It is a good news story for the DAA in a summer that began with awful headlines in May and June about lengthy security queues leading people to miss flights at Dublin Airport.
The first flight, which will take place between 11.30am and 12.30pm on Wednesday, will be a low-key event, Mr Cullinane said. “It’s a slow gradual build-up. We will ramp up it slowly.”
The north runway will run parallel to the existing south runway and the two will be linked by the airport’s cross-runway.
“People had the foresight to protect the land bank in case it was needed back in the 1960s. They had the foresight to do that in case the runway expanded,” Mr Cullinane said. “It is a vital and very complex piece of infrastructure.”