Work to build Dublin 2nd runway could start in 2017 for completion in 2020


An artist's impression of Dublin airport with a new north runway
An artist’s impression of Dublin airport, which was used by 25 million passengers last year, with the new £258m north runway. Photograph: DAA/PA


By , Transport correspondent – Guardian

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.”


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Willie Walsh keen to get 2nd Dublin runway, which has planning consent

Planning permission for a new east-west runway, 1.6 kilometres to the north and parallel to the existing main runway at Dublin airport was granted  in 2007 and remains valid till 2017.  However a new planning application may have to be lodged because the original permission contained 31 restrictive conditions including a requirement that no flights operate from the 2nd runway between 11pm and 7am. The airport’s busiest time is the hour between 6am and 7am so airlines say a ban before flights taking off then is “impractical.”  The runway cost has been estimated at  €300m.  The likelihood of it being built is considered higher now after the IAG takeover of Aer Lingus which includes plans to use Dublin airport to feed traffic from Europe to North America.  IAG’s CEO Willie Walsh wants the runway, saying (predictably) Dublin airport is currently at full capacity during peak hours, leading to “congestion and delays”. Mr Walsh says he was open to an agreement with Ryanair that would see it feed passengers to the Aer Lingus long-haul network, and an agreement could be reached by summer 2016.  The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is re-examining its proposals for a second runway as passenger numbers have risen to more than 21 million in 2014 and it expects a rise of 15% this year.


Willie Walsh threatens to move BA to develop base in Dublin or Madrid to avoid paying for “gold plated” Heathrow runway plans

Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways’ parent company, IAG, has said BA might give up on Heathrow and move overseas, if Heathrow got a new “gold plated” runway and doubled its charges to airlines. He said BA could “develop our business” in Dublin or Madrid rather than pay for the expansion of Heathrow. The current landing charge of about £40 for a return trip would increase to at least £80 with the runway. That might deter passengers. “We won’t pay for it and we most certainly won’t pre-fund the construction of any new infrastructure.”  Mr Walsh said that the £17.6 billion plan to expand Heathrow represented an attempt by a “monopoly airport” to build “gold-plated facilities and fleece its airlines and their customers”. Only about 1% of the estimated cost is for the runway itself. He indicated that Heathrow remained his preferred option for a runway, but not if it cost of £17.6 billion.” …“Heathrow is not IAG’s only hub. We can develop our business via Madrid, which has spare capacity, and Dublin, where there are plans for a cost-effective and efficient second runway.”  Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, was studiously neutral, saying that Gatwick and Heathrow both remained runway options. Mr Walsh also opposes a runway at Gatwick, as “no one would move there while Heathrow remains open.”



More Northern Ireland residents using Dublin Airport

New figures from the Dublin Airport Authority show more than 500,000 Northern Ireland residents used Dublin Airport last year, a 15% increase on 2011. The number of Northern Ireland-based passengers using Dublin Airport has almost doubled since 2010 – the vast majority (70%) for holidays or leisure trips – and only 20% for business. The effect of Air Passenger Duty is not mentioned, as it is only £13 for short haul journeys, and has been removed from longer journeys from Northern Ireland.  The Irish flight tax is only €3 per flight (it was higher till 2011). Dublin airport says the new road network has made travelling from Northern Ireland to Dublin faster and easier. In 2011 Dublin airport had around 18.7 million passengers, Belfast International had about 4.1 million and Belfast City airport around 2.4 million.