Analysis: DAA must navigate runway cost and noise

Airlines are unhappy with construction prices and locals fear effect of extra flights

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) will meet airlines and local groups in coming weeks as it seeks to push ahead with its €320 million plan to build a second runway at the northern side of its airfield.

The State company confirmed on Thursday that it intends beginning work on the new runway shortly and said it would be finished by 2020.

However, the €320 million estimated cost was about 30 per cent more than the €250 million price quoted for the project as recently as last week.

A DAA spokeswoman blamed inflation in building costs, now running at 4-5 per cent a year, for the increase.


She also explained that it factored in taxi-ways designed to allow rapid take-off and landing, and a fire station.

The project’s cost is a potential source of friction with DAA’s airline customers who support the project but argue that it must be brought in on time and on budget.

Following a ruling by the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) two years ago, DAA can add 59 cent to its current €9.87 a head passenger charge to help pay for the runway.

Passenger charges

However, airlines such as


argue this could hit the growth that the new runway is meant to facilitate.

"We have already seen that if the cost of landing passengers at the airport goes up then the numbers go down," its chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said on Thursday. He confirmed that his company will meet the DAA next week and discuss how the runway can be built in a "low-cost" way.

Aer Lingus would not comment on whether it would be meeting the company, but the airline made it clear that it expected any development at the airport to be cost-efficient.

Both airlines confirmed that they would take part in a consultation organised by the the DAA on when the airport can begin recovering its costs.

The airport company will be meeting with residents' groups shortly. Its chief executive, Kevin Toland, said it is committed to dealing with local communities.

However, it is challenging two conditions tied to the planning permission for the new runway that were meant to allay locals’ fears.

One limits flights between 11pm and 7am to 65 in number.

The other restricts use of the runway in the early morning.

Night flights now run at 99 while early morning is its busiest time.

Early flights

Mr Toland pointed out that this is crucial to home-based aircraft heading to


and elsewhere. Aer Lingus and Ryanair operate many of those flights to the continent.

This ties the planning issue to those two key customers.

If they pay an increase in charges to help pay for the runway, they are likely to be very unhappy if they cannot use it at times when demand is strongest.

Mr Toland said on Thursday that less-noisy craft and the soundproofing it is providing for some schools and homes, could eliminate the need for those conditions.

Flight paths

His company is also working with the

Irish Aviation Authority

(IAA), responsible for air traffic control, on determining flight paths into the runway. That will take factors such as noise into account.

According to the IAA, Dublin already uses a system, called point merge, that is meant to cut holding, noise and greenhouse gas emissions.

The authority itself is playing a big part in the development, as it will have to build a new air-traffic control tower at a cost of €40-€50 million. The IAA received planning permission for this in 2010.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas