Ex-Ryanair CMO Kenny Jacobs named chief executive of DAA

Appointment comes at critical time for airport manager

DAA, which manages Dublin and Cork airports, named Kenny Jacobs as its next chief executive as the aviation sector continues to recover from the pandemic.

Mr Jacobs, whose previous roles include chief marketing officer at Ryanair, will take up his post in January for a seven-year term, the airport operator said in a statement. He replaces Dalton Philips who resigned in May. Finance chief Catherine Gubbins had been interim CEO since September.

“We are delighted that Kenny is joining,” DAA chairman Basil Geoghegan said. “He brings a unique knowledge of aviation and retail businesses and understands the importance of excellent customer service, commercial growth, retail, and marketing and communications.”

The appointment comes at a crucial time for DAA as it seeks to maintain its recovery from the collapse in travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Dublin Airport was intermittently gripped by delays in processing passengers from April onwards through the summer as the DAA dealt with issues around check-in and security screening. At times through the peak summer season, passengers had to queue for hours to get through to their flights, with many having travel plans disrupted.

Separately, Minister of State for Aviation Hildegarde Naughton raised concerns about the cleanliness of Dublin Airport with Mr Geoghegan at the start of June.

Ryanair, Mr Jacobs’s former employer, has had numerous disputes with DAA in recent years, notably on issues around landing charges and crowds of the Dublin Airport. He left the carrier in 2020.

“My focus will be to deliver an efficient travel experience for consumers using our airports, supporting traffic growth and building on DAA’s vast experience of operating national strategic infrastructure, at home and abroad as a key economic enabler in terms of trade, tourism and social cohesion,” Mr Jacobs said.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan welcomed the appointment, adding the new chief executive takes over “at an important and challenging time” for the company.

“As the aviation sector continues its recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Dublin and Cork Airports passenger levels continue to rebound, Mr Jacobs’s significant experience, including his focus on customer service and improving the travel experience of passengers, will be hugely beneficial to the company,” Ms Naughton said.

Last month, DAA reported a profit after tax of €23.6 million for the six months to the end of June, compared with a €116.1 million loss during the corresponding period a year earlier when Covid-19 still stalked the aviation industry.

Overall, 13 million passengers passed through Dublin and Cork Airports between January and June, down about a fifth on pre-pandemic levels due to restrictions put in place early in the year to combat the Omicron variant of the virus. About 7.8 million passengers travelled through Dublin Airport between April and June. That was 14 per cent higher than the same three months in 2019 before the pandemic.

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan is an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times