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Lower airfares from Dublin at risk as cold water poured on price plan

Aviation watchdog said airport’s license in danger if lower charges mean security cuts.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

LOWER AIRFARES COULD be a pipe dream after Ireland’s aviation watchdog warned trimming passenger charges would jeopardise security at the country’s biggest flight hub.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), which manages the country’s airspace and oversees flight security, has threatened that cuts to departing passenger fees at Dublin Airport “may impact” on the airport’s license.

The IAA’s comments come in a response to the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR), which oversees airport charges, after the pricing regulator said passenger fees should be slashed at Dublin Airport.

Security issues

The IAA warnedt the figures used to work out the new, lower prices did not allow for money being spent on technical upgrades and more staff to improve security at the airport.

Measures it said would have to be shelved included:

  • Technology to properly screen fluids and gels following terrorist threats using liquid explosives
  • Upgrades to hold-baggage screening to meet European standards that start in 2020
  • Moving the T1 security screening area to a bigger facility to keep up with higher passenger numbers

Aer Lingus strike. Aer Lingus cabin cr Dublin Airport passenger charges should be cut, the pricing watchdog says. Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

But lower fees should mean lower prices for us, right?

The average airport charge per passenger is currently capped at €10.68 – a figure the CAR wants cut by 22% to €8.35 in 2019.

Airlines pay the passenger charges but the costs are eventually passed on to travelers.

In its draft ruling, which is due to the get final stamp of approval this month, the CAR said the lower price reflected the airport’s higher profits and passenger numbers, which it claimed should lower operating costs per person.

Major carriers including Ryanair and Aer Lingus backed the reduced charges, although both have called on the regulator to go even further as there were more efficiency gains to be made at the airport.

Airport twet Source: Twitter/MeganMcEnery

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Airport says no, blames “weak” financial picture

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has rejected the CAR’s pricing structure, instead calling for a price cap of €13.00 – which it then promised not to charge anyway.

In its response to the lower fees, the DAA said its financial performance “remains weak” – despite it recording an after-tax profit of €9.7 million last year and passenger numbers bouncing back to near their pre-crisis levels.

It also “formally indicated a pricing promise to keep charges flat in real terms” over the next five years, adding:

In one sense the higher price cap is academic, since we don’t intend to price to it.”

READ: Up, up, up: Passenger traffic at Dublin Airport 

READ: UK tightens airport security after US warning, Dublin Airport says its business as usual

About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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