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Passenger cap at Dublin Airport will cost jobs, daa warns

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The chief executive of Dublin Airport operator daa has warned that the passenger cap at the airport will cost jobs next year and the year after, while it awaits a planning decision on increasing it from the current 32 million a year to 40 million.

Kenny Jacobs said daa, which operates Dublin and Cork airports, wished that the cap didn’t exist, but will continue to comply with it.

“That unfortunately means telling airlines that want to come to Dublin that it is going to be difficult to do it,” he said.

“It will reduce connectivity, it will impact jobs and it is not really good for Ireland’s reputation in international aviation.”

He said airlines and airports around the world “do not get” why Ireland has a cap and some airlines have already decided not to apply for slots as they won’t get them.

He added that he does not think that someone will challenge the cap in the courts, but airlines might challenge the slot allocation process, which is governed by the Irish Aviation Authority.

“I would imagine at the moment several airlines are considering litigation to try to grow at Dublin, to be able to add frequencies, to be able to add aircraft next year,” Mr Jacobs said.

Mr Jacobs said there is no quick fix for the planning issue.

He said daa would considering putting in a second application for a smaller interim increase in the passenger cap, if it thought that it would be processed faster than its wider infrastructure plan, which seeks to increase the cap to 40m passengers a year.

Last year, 31.9m passengers passed through the airport, just under the current cap.

The airport boss said another way to deal with the issue would be to have legislation passed.

“But I think we are going to be waiting for planning to remove the cap,” he added.

He said daa would love to see Dublin Airport classed as strategic infrastructure.

“We would love to go straight to a fast track An Bord Pleanála process,” he said.

Kenny Jacobs, chief executive of daa

Mr Jacobs said it was unfair to expect Fingal County Council to handle planning issues like this and it would be fairer for them and better for Ireland and Dublin if the airport was classed as strategic infrastructure.

The daa CEO made the comments as Dublin Airport unveiled details of its summer readiness plan.

The airport expects to see more than 10m passengers pass through its terminals over the summer season.

The plan includes a range of commitments, including that at least 90% of passengers would clear security screening in under 20 minutes, the increased use of new C3 scanners, higher customers service standards and improved food and drink choices.

The airport has also boosted its accessibility facilities, has further improved toilet facilities, has added new seating and has committed to keeping car parking charges at the same level as last year.

But Mr Jacobs also warned that there would be shortages in car parking capacity at peak times over the summer.

He said daa would talk to the owners of the former Quickpark site in Santry to see if it could strike a deal to open it in time for the summer in order to increase the number of spaces on offer by 5,000.

Earlier this year, the competition regulator blocked plans by daa to buy the disused car park.

Daa said passengers travelling over the summer period should be at the airport two hours in advance for a short-haul flight and three hours ahead of time for a long-haul flight.

Reacting to figures from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland which showed an increase in emissions from aviation here last year, Mr Jacobs said it was a major challenge and the sector needs to do more to bring emissions down.

He said daa was working to increase supplies of Sustainable Aviation Fuel at the airport and is incentivising the use of greener aircraft, as part of its plans to be carbon neutral by 2050.

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