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Relations between Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport have 'soured immensely'

The airline says it would redeploy aircraft if infrastructure isn’t improved.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

THE CHIEF OPERATIONS Officer at Aer Lingus says that relations with the company which runs Dublin Airport have “soured immensely” over upgrades to the airport.

The former national carrier has previously signalled its dissatisfaction over what it called “unacceptable infrastructural deficits” at the airport.

In July, Willie Walsh – the chief executive of IAG, the company that owns Aer Lingus and British Airways – said the group is unhappy with how Dublin Airport has handled its “infrastructural bottlenecks”.

Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh has made similar comments, claiming that Dublin Airport is turning away business because its existing infrastructure can’t handle extra traffic.

Specifically, the airline is concerned that the baggage system, parking stands and taxiways are not up to scratch.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin yesterday, Aer Lingus COO Mike Rutter said that the standoff had seen relations between the two sides sour in recent months.

Relations have soured immensely between ourselves and Dublin Airport over the past few months.

“(This happened) when it became apparent that the ambition we have to prosecute an agenda of growth into Dublin has not yet been matched.”

He said that Aer Lingus would continue to meet with DAA chief executive Dalton Philips in order to repair the relationship.


With Aer Lingus set to spend around €1 billion on eight new aircraft earmarked for stationing at Dublin, it may seem somewhat inconsistent that they would be worried about current infrastructure.

But Rutter says that those “infrastructural pinch points” can be overcome.

“We genuinely believe we can overcome the infrastructure issues. I’m a great believer that you need to show the ambition of your business.

“You hope that others can catch up with you, can work with you and can deliver.

“If that ambition is met, it’s absolutely fine. If not, then in the long-term we will have to consider where aircraft get deployed.

“The management team here in Dublin have one ambition that (the new aircraft) are deployed here and used for the good of the Irish economy.”

The Aer Lingus stance comes at a time of ambitious expansion, but its demands that there is investment in Dublin Airport are contrary to its stance in 2014.

At the time of the last Commision for Aviation Regulation review of capacity at Dublin Airport, Aer Lingus said that no investment was needed. Its submission does not mention baggage, gates or taxiways. The document covered a five-year investment cycle from 2015-2019.

The submission says that current infrastructure could be better utilised. In fact, it argued that DAA’s capital expenditure plans were too ambitious.

“There is no pressing need for further capacity expansion in the coming period.

“[M]ore efficient use of the runway infrastructure at Dublin could delay the need for another runway for a significant number of years, which would push the need back to the 2025-29 regulatory period at the earliest.

In Aer Lingus’ opinion, this plan, overall, is larger than is necessary for a period that involves no justifiable case for significant capacity expansion.

Since that submission was made, Aer Lingus has been taken over by airline group IAG and transformed its business through expansion and leveraging Dublin’s location as a transatlantic hub.

A Dublin Airport spokesperson said:

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“Dublin Airport is managed in the best interests of the Irish economy to grow connectivity and to meet the needs of all of its airline customers rather than just one.

Dublin Airport is currently investing about €100 million per year to upgrade its facilities and we will shortly present proposals for an enhanced an investment programme to our airline customers for consultation. As part of our investment in new capacity a new boarding gate area will open later this year, which will be used by Aer Lingus flights among others.

“We welcome Aer Lingus’ decision to launch a new Dublin-Philadelphia service next year and to continue to expand its overall transatlantic business at Dublin Airport.”

Terminal velocity

File Photo: The three men arrested as part of an investigation into an international illegal immigrant smuggling network through Dublin Airport, are appearing in court this morning. Two of those arrested are Aer Lingus employees at the airport. End. Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport. Source: Laura Hutton/

Part of a solution, Rutter indicated, would be for Aer Lingus to have its own terminal. Last year the Department of Transport announced that it has published a request for tenders (RFT) to conduct a report titled, ‘A review of future capacity needs at Ireland’s state airports’.

The notice asked tenderers to “assess the relative advantages and disadvantages of the funding and operation of Terminal 3 by the existing airport operator in comparison to being operated on an independent basis”.

Rutter indicated that if Terminal 2 was up for sale, which it is not, Aer Lingus could be interested in buying it.

Aer Lingus would like to own or be the anchor tenant of Terminal 2 and being the key player in that marketplace. Our genuine desire is to be a major contributor to the development of Terminal 2 and for it to become a proper hub terminal that allows Ryanair do what they need to do in Terminal 1 and us do what we need to do in Terminal 2.

“If the solution to that equation is to create a third terminal, managed by whoever, and take some of the noise out of Terminal 2, we wouldn’t be against that.

“We’re willing to explore all options with DAA.”

Read: Aer Lingus promises 900 new jobs and a new route to major US city

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