A repeat of the skyrocketing parking prices at Dublin Airport last summer could be on the horizon at high season this year if plans to reopen a facility to accommodate more than 6,000 cars are significantly delayed after being referred to the competition watchdog.
An investigation into the purchase of more than 6,000 additional parking spaces by DAA, the authority that runs Dublin Airport, is now under way with a dozen complaints already lodged with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).
The complaints are understood to have come from underbidders who lost out when the land was sold last autumn as well as others who have expressed concern about the DAA controlling virtually all the parking at the airport and what that might mean for the competitive pricing for parking.
If the process is not delayed, the green light for the reopening of the car park, which was run under the QuickPark name until 2019, could be granted by the middle of May with the new spaces available by early June.
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However, if the investigation becomes more complex or competition issues are identified, it could be at least six months before the facility is reopened.
That eventuality is likely to see parking spaces in very short supply once again this summer with prices likely to climb as demand outstrips supply over the high season.
The former QuickPark property, which stretches over 42 acres and can accommodate more than 6,100 cars, was bought by developer Gerry Gannon before being put up for sale with a price tag of €70 million in 2022.
Last year DAA came under fire for the soaring price of parking at the airport with costs more than doubling at times of high demand. The authority blamed a shortage of supply and said the closure of the QuickPark had contributed to the problem.
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In a statement issued to The Irish Times, the authority said that the purchase of QuickPark, if given the go-ahead would offer 6,100 long term car parking spaces at Dublin Airport “which was often fully booked out last summer following the rapid recovery of international air travel”.
A spokesman said that the restoration of the long-term car parking capacity “after an absence of three years would complement that provided by over a dozen other providers in the vicinity of Dublin Airport”.
The CCPC said mergers on this scale had to be reviewed. The first part of the mergers process is for the CCPC to undertake a preliminary investigation with a deadline of 30 working days after the notification of the proposed acquisition.
The deadline of the phase one investigation may be extended if additional information is needed.
If the preliminary investigation concludes that further examination is required in order to establish if the proposed transaction could lead to a substantial lessening of competition, then a full investigation will have to be opened and that can take up to 120 working days to be completed.