Dublin Airport passengers opposed to cutting charges, survey finds

Survey by DAA suggests passengers believe money should be invested in facilities instead

The majority of Dublin Airport passengers (60 per cent) are against proposals to cut passenger charges, believing the money should be used instead to fund investment in better facilities, a survey by the airport's operator DAA has found.

The survey of 500 people, who had either used the airport in the past 12 months or planned to use it within the next 12 months, also suggested that few passengers (less than 30 per cent) believed that airlines would pass on any reduction in charges to passengers in the form of lower ticket prices.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) wants Dublin Airport to cut the passenger charges it levies on airlines by €2, from the current level of €9.65 a head to €7.50 from next year.

However, the airport authority claims that a reduction will leave it unable to finance a €1.8 billion expansion needed to cater for expected growth.


When the proposals were announced in May, CAR claimed that "the reduction in price will benefit passengers, through lower air fares," DAA chief executive Dalton Philips said.

However, he said a survey of passenger views now showed that consumers did not agree with the regulator. “Consumers have spoken; they want flat charges at Dublin Airport so that we can invest in new and improved facilities,” Mr Philips said. “The aviation regulator’s argument that a €2 reduction in airport charges is positive for consumers is simply not supported by the research,” he added.

“Passengers don’t believe that they will see that €2 in their pockets,” Mr Philips said. “The clear consumer preference is for flat charges and for more investment in facilities, which is exactly what we had planned.”

Expand facilities

He said DAA had intended to invest almost €2 billion to improve and expand facilities at Dublin Airport, while keeping its airport charges – which are already 30-40 per cent cheaper than its European peers – flat for the next five years. However, in its draft decision, the regulator said airport charges should be cut by 22 per cent, which means that DAA will not be able to finance all of the upgrades that are urgently needed at Dublin Airport.

Air fares are falling for consumers and so should airport charges

Ryanair said the proposed reduction in charges at Dublin airport was welcome but did not go far enough.

“In the past five years traffic through Dublin airport has grown by 40 per cent from 22 million to 31 million and as a result the charges need to be reduced by more than the proposed 15 per cent,” a spokesman said.

“Air fares are falling for consumers and so should airport charges,” he said.

“Ryanair calls for a third competing terminal at Dublin, which would remove the need for a cap on airport charges, as market forces would set the charges at a much lower level than what the DAA is allowed to charge today and bring greater benefit to the economy and consumers,” he added.

Aer Lingus, meanwhile, said airport charges were just one of a range of variable costs in its business, and any reduction in these costs at Dublin Airport – or, indeed, at other airports – supports the execution of its "value model".

“Aer Lingus is a value carrier and we maintain a clear focus on cost reduction and efficiency in order to facilitate investment in new routes and greater frequencies and in order to provide value to our guests in our fares,” a spokeswoman said.

“The Irish consumer benefits through provision of competitive fares and greater expansion of the Aer Lingus network. This is the essence of our value model,” she said.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times