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Dublin Airport 'still interested' in buying land between two runways, but only at 'realistic value'

Daa CEO Kenny Jacobs was speaking at the launch of new study, which found that the airport contributes €9.6 billion in value to the Irish economy.

THE OPERATOR OF Dublin Airport has said it is “still interested” in purchasing a major landbank between runways at the airport, but only at a “realistic value”. 

Daa chief executive Kenny Jacobs said the airport authority has made a “sensible bid” on the land based on a realistic professional valuation.

“We don’t we don’t make crazy bids and we’re not going to make a crazy bid,” Jacobs told reporters at the launch of the Dublin Airport economic impact study.

The land, which is privately owned by British real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Incorporated, totals 260 acres and is located between the north and south runway of the airport.

Commenting on reports from the weekend that daa was no longer the highest bidder for the land, Jacobs said that if JLL had received an offer “three times” the value of the land, “good luck to them”.  

“Are we still interested? Yes we are, but we’re interested at a realistic value,” he said.

“We don’t need that land to build a third terminal because we don’t think we need a third terminal. If we need a third terminal, it’s going to be beside T1 and T2.”

Jacobs said the land could be used for taxiways and other additional facilities, but “you put an economic value on that based on evaluation and that’s where we’re at”.

“We’re staying where we’re at and if they want to come back and talk to us because other bids fall through, that may happen, but that is up to them. Time will tell.”

Jacobs said the airport authority had gone out to view the land, which he said is “literally right smack in the middle of two runways”.

“If I was a sovereign wealth fund buying that land, I’d have picked up the phone to daa by now,” he said, adding that that hadn’t happened yet. 

They may well come back to us and say do you want to have another go at this but we will stay sensible. We don’t pay crazy prices. We don’t see the need to do that.

The daa CEO also said he is hopeful that Dublin Airport will be granted clearance by the Consumer and Competition Protection Commission (CCPC) to acquire QuickPark, a privately owned car park near the airport. 

The proposal is currently being investigated by the CCPC before it can go ahead.

Jacobs said acquiring the car park would “take the pressure off parking at the airport” next summer, giving it an additional 6,200 new parking spaces on top of the 23,000 spaces it currently has.

He also said the “drama” that was portrayed in some media of it being “impossible to get parking” at Dublin Airport this summer ”wasn’t the reality”.

The airport had been criticised for a lack of available parking for passengers, with several reports of “unavailable” and “really expensive” car parking spaces at the airport.

Planning application

Jacobs was speaking at the launch of a new study, which found that Dublin Airport contributes €9.6 billion in gross value added (GVA) to the Irish economy and supports or facilitates 116,100 jobs.

GVA is defined as the value added to the economy by the operating surpluses of companies and the wages of employees directly or indirectly linked to Dublin Airport.

The Dublin Airport economic impact study was commissioned by daa – the authority that oversees Dublin Airport – and produced by international consultants InterVistas.

The study states that the airport staged a strong recovery last year from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in the previous two years, with traffic reaching 28.1 million, 85% of peak 2019 levels.

It states that in the five years after 2025, traffic is forecast to grow at 3.7% per annum, reaching 39.6 million by 2030.

Traffic is then projected to reach 46.6 million by 2040 and 55 million by 2055. The average growth between 2025 and 2055 is forecast to be 1.7% per annum, if there are no constraints from growth either from physical or permitted airport capacity or government policy.

In a statement, Jacobs said there is a “clear opportunity” to grow Dublin Airport further, providing more jobs and more economic growth for Ireland, “but only if the planning and regulatory environment is able to keep pace”.

“If Dublin Airport is not able to accommodate these opportunities for growth, it will be other major city airports – the same airports that Dublin Airport currently competes with on a daily basis for air connectivity – that will benefit instead,” he said. 

He said the airport will “soon” submit a planning application which would enable the airport to grow to 40 million passengers per year.

The study estimates that if the passenger cap remains at 32 million, the Irish economy will forgo 17,800 jobs and €1.5 billion in GVA by 2030, increasing to 53,300 jobs and €4.4 billion in GVA by 2055.

Jobs

According to the study, of the 116,100 jobs that Dublin Airport is responsible for, 19,900 are direct, with 11,700 indirect jobs in firms that support or supply the airport.

The study also links 13,300 jobs back to the airport through employees spending in the economy, while it finds that Dublin Airport helps to sustain 71,200 more jobs through the facilitation of tourism, trade, investment and productivity.

The study finds that 27% of jobs are in in Fingal, with 21% in the rest of Dublin. A total of 22% are in the rest of Leinster and 31% are located across the rest of the country.

In relation to the economic impact, the study finds that 29% of the GVA is located in Fingal, with 24% of GVA located in the rest of Dublin (53% in total across Dublin).

There is 20% located in Leinster, with a further 28% of GVA in the rest of Ireland, through tourism and other economic impacts.

Analysis was also undertaken to estimate the future economic impact of Dublin Airport, based on the traffic forecasts produced by daa.

The study estimates that the total economic impact of Dublin Airport is projected to reach 151,000 jobs and €12.5 billion in GVA by 2030, reaching 191,600 jobs and €15.8 billion in GVA by 2055.

The study also highlights the importance of Dublin Airport as a hub of international connectivity, and for the transport of air cargo.

Connectivity

It states that Dublin has achieved comparable or higher levels of connectivity to Barcelona, Copenhagen, Berlin, and Vienna.

However, it states that Dublin Airport will need to continue to enhance its connectivity “in order to remain competitive with or overtake” other European cities. 

“Achieving higher connectivity will require the efforts of all airport stakeholders and will be dependent on supportive and expansive aviation policy, regulation and planning regimes,” the study states.

“Dublin Airport must also be enabled to expand its facilities to meet demand. The pay-off will be even greater economic growth as increased air connectivity facilitates increased trade, tourism, investment and economic growth.”

Jacobs said Dublin Airport “plays a unique role within Ireland, acting as the island’s main gateway to the rest of the world and underpinning the economy at large by facilitating tourism, foreign direct investment, trade and many thousands of jobs.”

Minister of State at the Department of Transport Jack Chambers – who was present at the launch of the study this afternoon – said in a statement that Dublin Airport was important “as a hub airport, competing with the UK and other European airports, with the necessary capacity to connect Ireland to key existing and emerging global markets”.

Addressing the launch, Chambers said he is conscious that there must be a balance to ensure that the development of the airport is “justified, proportionate and appropriate and respectful of a broader range of criteria”, including the needs of the nearest residential neighbours.

He also said the development must be delivered “in a sustainable manner”, adding that sustainability guidelines and carbon reduction objectives have been development for infrastructure and construction projects across the airport.

The Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec) has welcomed the publication of the report. 

Neil Walker, Head of Infrastructure, Energy and Environment and Transport at Ibec said Dublin Airport is a vital national infrastructure asset for the business community.

“As Ireland’s economy and society continues to grow, it is important that the daa’s capacity to sustainably grow Dublin Airport is done without unnecessary disruption or unwarranted restrictions,” he said.

“As a trade-oriented island located on the periphery of Europe, our aviation transport infrastructure is of the utmost importance in maintaining global links. Therefore, it plays a pivotal role in our economic well-being across various industries and in the tourism sector.”

Runway controversy

Dublin Airport was recently the subject of enforcement action by Fingal County Council.

The council last month issued an enforcement notice on daa to reduce the number of night flights at Dublin Airport to a maximum of 65 between 11pm and 7am.

When Dublin Airport was granted approval for the new runway in 2007, Condition 5 was put in place to cap the number of flights between 11pm and 7am could not exceed 65.

Daa has challenged the decision in the High Court and secured a temporary stay on the enforcement, saying it will force it to significantly reduce the number of night-time flights going to and from the airport.

Daa claimed that the enforcement notice is flawed, unreasoned, vague, is of no legal effect and should be set aside by the court.

Additional reporting by Cormac Fitzgerald

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