A 3.1km (2 mile) runway will be constructed at a cost of €320m (£258m) by 2020 to meet rising demand. The Irish government said the new runway would create thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly, over the coming years.
Construction is scheduled to start in 2017, with about 1,200 people set to be directly employed.
Passenger numbers at the airport rose by 15% last year to surpass the level reached in 2008, before the economic downturn saw air travel fall away.
Dublin airport was awarded planning permission in August 2007, but the runway was later delayed. Ireland’s improving fortunes, as the fastest growing economy in the EU in the past two years, allied with cuts to Irish taxes on air travel in 2014, have seen demand surge again in Dublin.
A record 25 million passengers travelled in 2015 and the airport said numbers have grown by 17% in the first few months of 2016, compared with the same period last year.
Although the airport is not yet at full capacity, it is congested at peak hours and passenger numbers are expected to rise further. Dublin to London is one of the world’s busiest international air routes, while the facility to pre-clear US immigration in Ireland has made Dublin an increasingly attractive choice of departure for transatlantic travellers.
Ryanair, the largest airline in Ireland by passenger numbers, has its headquarters in Dublin and has ordered a new fleet of Boeing 737s with a view to further expansion. While Ryanair, which has a market share of more than 40% at Dublin, has been at loggerheads with the airport for years over its new terminal, T2, the airline is backing the new runway.
British Airways owner IAG, which acquired Aer Lingus last year, sees Dublin as having the potential to expand as a hub and has said it is “very much in favour” of the runway. However, with airlines potentially facing higher charges for new infrastructure, the IAG chief executive, Willie Walsh, has warned against allowing costs to rise.
Kevin Toland, the chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority, said the north runway would “significantly improve Ireland’s connectivity, which plays a critical role in growing passenger numbers and sustaining the future economic development of Ireland”.
The airport is pressing ahead with the project despite conditions in its planning permission from 2007 that would reduce the current level of operations during night hours, from 11pm to 7am. Planes would be banned from the north runway and total flights would be capped at 65 movements – less than two thirds of the current night-time traffic, on which no restrictions are presently imposed. The airport has described the conditions as “onerous” and Toland said he would look at how they could be addressed.
Irish Republic to scrap air travel tax – which was only €3 (had been €2 and €10 till 2010)
The Irish government has announced that it will be scrapping its tax on air travel. At present there is a tax of just €3 per flight, and this will end in April 2014. This has led to concerns about the potential impact on Northern Ireland’s airports, where there is still Air Passenger duty of £13 per passenger (€26 per return flight) for short haul flights (not for long haul flights). Ryanair has immediately said it will increase its traffic at Irish airports by one million passengers a year – which is rather surprising, if the difference in tax from what it is now is just €3. It is not thought likely that many people will travel from Northern Ireland to Dublin to save €20 – the trip there and back might cost more. George Best Belfast City Airport said the move was “very unlikely to cause a stampede to Dublin for cheap flights”. Stormont Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton, said the move by the Republic was “not really a surprise” and that it would be prohibitively expensive for Northern Ireland to match the cut. “The cost to the NI block grant and other public services would be significant – between £60 – £90 million a year,” he said.
[Feb 2014. Willie Walsh “said about a million people a year drive from Northern Ireland to Dublin to avoid the charge. The Republic charges €3 a passenger, a flight, but is abolishing the charge from April. In Northern Ireland, the APD charge is £13 for short haul, while the charge for long haul has been abolished.”