Basil Geoghegan, daa Chairman Designate, has told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport that: “Under the current planning conditions, as soon as the construction of the new runway is complete Dublin Airport would have to introduce an airport-wide reduction in the number of flights during the night and first thing in the morning, from about 100 to 65.”
“Given the growth at Dublin, the successful development of the North Runway, in a way that increases the airport’s capacity and flexibility, is of huge importance. Having the opportunity to develop, finance and operate such an important piece of national infrastructure on time and within budget is a very exciting prospect.
“Dublin Airport’s existing main runway is operating at capacity at peak times and the new runway is vital to allow the Irish economy to continue to grow. The current plan is that daa will award the main construction contract for the new runway this autumn. Construction is due to be completed by early 2021, after which there will be a nine-month commissioning phase before North Runway can be brought into service.
“However, there are significant issues still to be addressed regarding the new runway. I do not believe these are widely known or understood.
“Under the current planning conditions, as soon as the construction of the new runway is complete Dublin Airport would have to introduce an airport-wide reduction in the number of flights during the night and first thing in the morning, which is its busiest time of the day.
“Dublin Airport currently has about 100 flights between 11pm and 7am every day. The restrictions would cut this to 65 flights, causing an immediate and hugely negative impact on flights, jobs and connectivity for Ireland.
“The airport could lose up to three million passengers in the first year due to the restrictions. By 2037 the restrictions are estimated to cost the Irish economy over 17,000 jobs – that’s a greater level of employment than currently offered by the combined operations of Apple, Dell, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft in Ireland.
“daa is seeking to amend these restrictive conditions, but to do this, we need clarity urgently on the new system for noise regulation at the airport.
“The Government has said that establishing the new noise regime is a priority and that Fingal County Council will be the new independent noise regulator for Dublin Airport. In due course, daa will make its case to the regulator; other stakeholders will also have an opportunity to have their views heard and ultimately the regulator will make its decision.
“However, without the enabling legislation and an appropriate amount of time, there is a real risk of the undesirable situation I outlined above crystallising. That would mean that, despite having built a new runway, Dublin Airport would have fewer flights and reduced connectivity.
“In my view, as a country we have a great opportunity with the North Runway to be on the front foot and to show how we can develop our infrastructure efficiently and quickly. I would ask the members of this Committee to do everything you can to progress this matter and ensure the timely enactment of the legislation and establishment of the noise regulator.
“I am also very mindful that the new runway is understandably an important issue for some of the airport’s neighbouring communities. I understand that daa is continuing to meet local groups and individuals on an ongoing basis and I support this dialogue. Since North Runway was announced in April 2016, daa has held more than 125 meetings with about 1,500 local residents, either individually or as part of residents’ groups. That dialogue will continue.”