O'Leary criticises T2 'palace'


Ryanair's Michael O'Leary, dressed as an undertaker complete with coffin and hearse, attempted to upstage the opening of T2 by Taoiseach Brian Cowen at Dublin airport this morning.

Mr O'Leary, who last week announced he was reducing the number of flights into Dublin, said the new terminal was a "palace" that the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) and Government insisted on building while tourism in the country was dying.

Speaking to reporters in advance of the arrival of the Taoiseach, Mr O'Leary posed for photographs beside the hearse which contained a green, white and orange coffin. Asked if this was showing disrespect for the national emblem Mr O'Leary said: "It is Irish tourism that is going to be buried today as a Government-owned bunch of bureaucrats open a €1.2 billion palace that Irish tourism doesn't need and can't afford".

Mr O'Leary added; "Remember jobs are being lost in Irish tourism, this year, this month, next month because the DAA are cranking up the fees by 40 per cent when inflation is zero."

Ryanair will not be moving to the new terminal.

Aer Lingus has indicated that from this week, it expects to operate a range of flights into and out of T2, as it prepares for a full transfer of scheduled operations into the new terminal from January.

The airline said during this period all Aer Lingus departing passengers should present at Terminal 1 as normal, unless advised otherwise by the airline. Next Tuesday, Etihad will join Aer Lingus with its long haul flights to Abu Dhabi.

The United States Customs and Border Protection authorities have indicated they will transfer operations into T2 in the New Year. Aer Lingus and other carriers on the North American route are expected to avail of this facility.

T2 will be home to the entire Aer Lingus operation at Dublin airport and will handle flights operated by Etihad Airways and US carriers.

Dublin Airport Authority said the new terminal cost €600 million and not €1.2 billion as claimed by Mr O'Leary. It said at its peak T2 was the largest construction project in the State and employed up to 2,600 people on site. The building took three years to construct, and in excess of 1,000 jobs are expected to be created.

While passenger numbers are falling at the airport and are expected to be just 18 million this year - some five million behind the peak years - the Taoiseach has already remarked the new terminal as a piece of infrastructure planned to meet capacity over coming decades.