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Member Spotlight: Dublin Airport

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Member Spotlight: Dublin Airport
Vincent Harrison has held the role of Managing Director of Dublin Airport since 2014 and during that time the airport has seen passenger traffic grow from 20 million to 31.5million.

Dublin Airport is Ireland’s international gateway serving the entire island of Ireland. It is the 11th busiest airport in the European Union and last year was the airport’s eighth consecutive year of growth. In 2018 passenger numbers increased by 6.5% to 31.5 million passengers and the airport welcomed an additional 1.9 million passengers.

This passenger growth is continuing in 2019 as more than 15.5 million passengers travelled through Dublin Airport in the first six months of the year, representing a 6% increase on the same period last year.  We have welcomed an additional 875,000 passengers during that time as well as 23 new routes and services and four new airlines.

The airport plays a vital role in the Irish economy as it supports 117,300 jobs, including 19,200 people employed directly at the airport and its environs. The economic activity underpinned by Dublin Airport in terms of the spin-off benefits through trade, tourism, and jobs, is worth €8.3 billion to the Irish economy annually.

More than 10 million passengers travel between Dublin and Britain annually, this market is very important for us, as it accounts for one third of our overall passenger traffic. Every week there are over 1,200 flights between Dublin Airport and 26 British airports. Our connectivity to these airports boosts Dublin Airport’s growing position as a key gateway between Europe and North America as British-based passengers are increasingly using Dublin as a hub.

Dublin is the only capital city in Europe with US Preclearance facilities which means that passengers save time on arrival in the US by completing all the necessary immigration and customs checks prior to departure. The only queue a pre-cleared passenger encounters on arrival in the US is the taxi queue to their final destination.

While this growth in passenger numbers is great news for the Irish economy as it means more jobs in tourism, and in trade as our connectivity continues to expand it does present its challenges.

Our goal is to provide a quality travel experience and we’re constantly investing both in facilities and in extra people at the airport to make sure we manage our growing passenger numbers and provide all our customers with the kind of experience they expect.

We have a plan to invest €1.8 billion, the airport’s largest investment programme in its history, to provide new facilities that are required to cope with growing demand over the next five years.  This will be delivered with no increase in airport charges and at no cost to the Irish State, as the airport is not funded by the Exchequer.

Almost €1 billion of that investment will deliver much needed new capacity mainly on the airfield bringing new boarding gate areas and aircraft parking stands.

However, a question mark now hangs over those plans as we are extremely concerned with the Commission for Aviation Regulation’s (CAR) draft determination to reduce airport charges by 22% from €9.65 to €7.50 for the duration of the next regulatory period covering 2020 to 2024.

Dublin Airport’s passenger charges are already 30-40% cheaper than its European peers.

We have strongly challenged the regulator’s plans which are not in the best interests of the Irish economy. CAR will issue a final pricing decision for the regulatory period 2020-2024 in the autumn.

Separately, construction of the North Runway, which has been part of Dublin Airport’s development strategy since the 1960s, is well underway. The development of our new runway is a key element of the Irish Government’s national aviation policy.  It says the runway is needed to allow airlines operate to global markets and to help Dublin Airport expand as a hub. The delivery of the runway will facilitate the creation of an additional 31,200 new jobs by 2043 and will add €2.2 billion to Ireland’s GDP within the same period.  North Runway will be delivered in 2021, a rigorous period of operational readiness and testing will take place following its completion to ensure it can be safely and efficiently handed over for flight operations.

We have also been developing Dublin Airport Central as Ireland’s next generation business destination. This major new property for commercial tenants is located opposite Terminal 2 at the centre of the airport’s campus. Dublin Airport Central is already home to ESB International and about 500 of its staff. The second phase comprising two new headquarters-style office blocks and new outdoor urban realm are almost ready for its tenants.

We’re looking forward to welcoming US food giant Kellogg’s as a major tenant, in one of the two new six-storey office blocks. These offices are being built to Grade A standard and will meet a minimum sustainable accreditation as awarded by the US Green Building Council of LEED Gold.

The UK is an important neighbour and trading partner to Ireland. While planes will continue to fly between Dublin and the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit, we believe such an outcome will be a negative for Dublin Airport and the Irish economy as a whole. We have seen little growth in this market in the past two years as it appears UK residents are travelling less frequently due to uncertainty about the future and currency fluctuations. Weakness in sterling is already having an impact on the business as it limits willingness of UK-based travellers to spend in our shops and to travel.

Membership of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce is more important to us now than ever before as it keeps us closely connected to what is happening between governments, policy makers and UK businesses.

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