Aer Lingus criticises DAA for late application to lift Dublin Airport cap

Carrier says application should have been made much earlier than December

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) “could have and should have” made its application to increase the hub’s passenger cap from 32 million to 40 million much earlier than last December, according to Aer Lingus.

In its submission concerning DAA’s bid to increase the cap as part of its so-called infrastructure application (IA), Aer Lingus has called on Fingal Co Council to grant an immediate interim increase in the passenger cap at Dublin Airport pending a decision on the application.

In the submission, the carrier’s director of corporate affairs Niall Timlin warned “there is significant national economic risk from the existing 32 million per annum passenger cap” and the current limit “is no longer fit for purpose”.

Mr Timlin also points out that it is concerning that Dublin Airport “significantly delayed” making its IA to raise the passenger cap to 40 million until December 2023 despite initial approval and funding in the 2019 regulatory decision by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).


Mr Timlin states that “Dublin Airport has been fully aware for many years of the growth plans of airlines based at Dublin ... This specific planning application could have and should have been made and dealt with much earlier.”

In a separate submission, Enterprise Ireland told the council that “the maintenance of the existing cap of 32 million passengers per year has the potential to hinder Ireland’s economic growth and global ambitions as an export-focused country”.

IBEC told the council that passenger numbers are expected to reach 40 million by 2030 and “Dublin Airport will be unable to accommodate this passenger demand unless Fingal County Council increases the current cap”.

In response to Aer Lingus’s claim that DAA should have lodged the planning application much earlier, a spokesman said: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing. DAA’s plans to address this capacity restriction have been delayed twice.”

“Firstly, by the fallout from the 2008 global financial crisis and the resultant recession. Secondly, by the catastrophic impact on global aviation and traffic at Dublin Airport resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We could have potentially lodged the application sooner, but the IA and the North Runway Relevant Action Application could not run in parallel for a number of technical and planning related reasons which were outside DAA’s control,” he added.

The spokesman said that in addition the North Runway Relevant Action application was delayed for almost three years due to several factors outside the control of DAA.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times