Dublin Airport to proceed with €320 million second runway

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The growth of Dublin Airport is a key driver of economic growth in Fingal, Dublin and the Irish economy. Dublin airport employs some 16,000 people. It supports or facilitates a total of 97,400 jobs in the country and contributes €6.9 billion to the national economy. A second runway is essential to the continued growth of the airport and I very much welcome the decision to proceed to construction. With 187,700 people still unemployed in Ireland I hope we can all get behind this project.

The new runway will significantly improve connectivity and will support trade, foreign direct investment and tourism. Dublin Airport’s gateway status is highlighted by the fact that 89% of all visitors to the island of Ireland arrive by air and of these 82% arrive via Dublin Airport.
Parallel Runway Dublin Airport
At top of image is proposed second runway at Dublin Airport
Continuing record growth at Dublin airport means we can no longer delay this important piece of critical infrastructure. The runway construction is essential to deal with delays at peak times. The planning application lodged in 2004 took two years for approval and contains 32 conditions. It was postponed due to the recession but even then demand at peak times dropped by only 4 per cent.

More than 25 million passengers passed through the airport last year, beating the previous record, set in 2008, of 23 million. The rapid recovery in passenger numbers is due to a combination of almost 50 new routes and services in the past two years, significant additional capacity increases on a number of existing routes, and nine new airlines operating at Dublin Airport. Total long-haul connectivity has grown by more than 65% since T2 opened, while short-haul connectivity has increased by 16%.

The 3,110 metre runway will be built 1.6km north of the existing main runway at a cost of €250 million and is expected to be delivered in 2020. Dublin Airport is investing a total of €320 million in this multi-faceted project which will comprise multiple contracts and packages of works.

Dublin Airport’s North Runway development has the potential to open up connectivity to a range of long-haul destinations, particularly in fast growing economies in Asia, Africa and South America. The delivery of a new runway could support a further 31,000 new jobs over the next two decades, contributing €2.2 billion to GDP.
Unlike airlines that typically plan for the short to medium term, airports must plan for the longer term. Investment in airport infrastructure requires long term planning that focusses on potential future demand for aviation services. 

With this in mind the daa also has a number of statutory obligations set out under the Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Act, 1998; State Airports Act 2004) that can be summarised as follows:
• To manage, operate and develop the airports
• To provide the services and facilities necessary for the operation, maintenance and development of the airports
• To take all proper measures for the safe and secure operation of the airports
• To operate in a commercial manner

From 2005-2010 DAA experienced significant increases in passenger traffic. As part of the DAA statutory obligations to develop Dublin Airport, DAA delivered airport infrastructure that would facilitate growth and dramatically improve the travel experience for airport users such as Terminal 2 and associated infrastructure which opened in November 2010.
As a result of great planning back in the early 1970s official’s safeguarded land around the airport for the provision of additional runway capacity when it was required.This foresight in securing land away from relatively populated areas is to be commended and is rarely seen at international airports. 
In 2007 DAA received planning permission for the construction of a second parallel runway at Dublin Airport. However, towards the end of 2010 there was a dramatic downturn in Irish and global economies that had a significant negative impact on air travel. Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport dropped from a high of 23.5m in 2008 to 19m in 2012.

Despite the current downturn, it is important to remember that aviation is a cyclical industry with a long lead-in time for investment. The ability of an airport to grow and evolve as passenger numbers increase is greatly influenced by the capability of the airport authority to plan for the proper development of the airport in the very long term. This contrasts with the more short-term focus of the airlines that have the ability to move their aircraft in response to market conditions to any location.

The Government has highlighted the importance of export led growth to Ireland’s economic recovery. It is vital therefore that the country’s principal airport has a runway of sufficient length to enable services to operate to emerging markets. A new parallel runway would serve the markets that are anticipated and thus enable connections for both business exports and international tourists.

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