• Fingal Dublin Chamber calls on political parties to support Dublin Airport’s North Runway

    Responding to the reports that Government formation talks have featured a political demand to cease construction of infrastructure projects such as North Runway at Dublin Airport, Fingal Dublin Chamber calls on the political parties to look forward to the future and support the plans to meet demand and boost the economy. 

    Speaking today (30 April 2020), Fingal Dublin Chamber Chief Executive Anthony Cooney said, 

    “While normal operations may be temporarily halted as our society and economy sustain the shocking blows of the Covid-19, there is also a need to plan for the recovery. Although the short-term future is grim, we will get through this and must now make decisions that will in time, help us to shine. 

    Dublin Airport has experienced extraordinary growth in recent years and is one of the most important economic assets in the country. The main runway opened 30 years ago, and annual traffic has grown from five million passengers in 1989 to almost 33 million in 2019. During normal times the main runway is effectively full at peak times so the airport urgently requires additional runway capacity.

    Government Policy has supported the plans to deliver a new runway at Dublin Airport to ensure that the airport has sufficient capacity to grow and to offer direct services to global emerging markets, however, recent reports suggest the North Runway, may be mothballed in Government negotiations. 

    North Runway was first given planning approval a decade ago, but progress then stalled due to the economic downturn. The project was restarted in 2016 and although temporarily suspended due to Government restrictions, construction work on North Runway is well advanced. We believe mothballing such a crucial investment at this stage would be detrimental to future prospects of the economy. As future visitors look out of their aeroplane windows, we cannot allow their first or last experience of Ireland to be the sight of a “white elephant” of an unfinished stretch of runway. 

    Research estimates that the North Runway, which is being funded entirely by the daa, will facilitate the creation of 31,200 jobs and will add €2.2billion to Ireland’s GDP by 2043. Most of this economic contribution is expected to occur outside of the direct aviation sector in areas such as tourism, trade and investment – and this non-aviation impact will be spread throughout the country. 

    In tandem with constructing the runway, daa is seeking the amendment of two onerous planning conditions that will apply once the new runway is complete. The conditions propose significant restrictions on operations during the airport’s busiest times of the day. The demand for runway slots is very high between 6am-7am, as Ireland is an hour behind our continental European neighbours, and again between 11pm and midnight when Irish-based airlines need to get their aircraft back to base in order to enable them to operate their business. 

    If the conditions were applied, Dublin Airport would have fewer flights between 11pm and 7am with two runways than it currently has with one. This scenario would disrupt time-critical air cargo operations, long-haul connectivity and ultimately result in reduced availability of destinations and customer choice. 
    To invest in crucial infrastructure projects and then have their use limited at such times would be akin to reinstalling the toll-barriers on the M50 motorway and holding back rush hour traffic. We support Dublin Airport's upcoming planning application seeking to change the two conditions and protect the operational flexibility of the airport.

    If this issue is not addressed, the challenges that we face in re-building our economy post-Covid and dealing with the impact of Brexit will be exacerbated. As an island with a small open economy dependent on international trade, we rely on Dublin Airport as Ireland’s main gateway. It accounts for 85% of the nation’s total air connectivity, generating or facilitating 129,700 jobs and €9.8 billion worth of economic activity. 

    Before the crisis, Dublin Airport had flights to more than 190 destinations in 42 countries operated by almost 50 airlines, making it the tenth-largest airport in the European Union. While Covid-19 has resulted in an unprecedented drop in passenger numbers, we cannot be complacent about planning for future growth when consumer confidence returns. 

    We are calling on the next Government to support the completion and efficient utilisation of North Runway.”

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