Dublin Airport has warned passengers there are no more spaces at its car parks for the coming days.
On Wednesday, the operator said all its short- and long-term parking was sold out for much of this week as peak summer season begins. Separate parking spaces are held for drop-off and collection.
The closure of privately owned car park near the airport that had previously accounted for about one fifth of total capacity has been blamed for a collapse in availability.
Although passenger numbers are now back to pre-Covid levels, 6,200 spaces have been taken out of the system following the sale of the Quick Park facility. Those spaces were also unavailable last summer.
DAA, which operates the airport, has placed a successful bid to purchase the facility but that move is now under review by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) which must approve the deal.
However, the CCPC, whose role is to ensure such an acquisition does not result in a “substantial lessening of competition”, said on Wednesday that its process had not prevented the operation of a car park.
A spokeswoman said discussions with the parties initially took place in 2022 but the deal was not notified to it until last March. In early May, it sought further information.
“This information has not yet been supplied to the CCPC. The merger review process has not prevented either party from operating a car parking business,” she said.
‘Dynamic pricing model’
DAA operates a “dynamic pricing model” which means parking charges go up during peak demand times such as summer, Christmas, bank holiday weekends and school holidays.
Special offers are available but limited – since mid-April about 200,000 spaces have been sold at a rate of €8 or less per day.
According to its website, the normal daily parking charge for the short-term car park, the closest, is €40 per day or €3 for the first hour and €4.50 after that.
Its 8,000-space Express Red Car Park is approximately a five-minute shuttle bus trip away and costs €15 a day, although lower prices are often secured by booking online, well in advance. The Holiday Long-Term Blue car park costs €14 per day.
“Demand is high for our lowest priced offers and they sell out quickly so the lowest price offered on one day may vary from what you see on a different day,” the website notes.
According to DAA, current Government policy and the local development plan preclude it from adding any additional parking.
“All car parks at Dublin Airport are sold out and expected to be full over the coming days, so passengers without an existing booking are advised to consider alternative options for getting to and from the airport,” said DAA spokesman Graeme McQueen.
Passengers have been urged to consider using taxis, public transport or to seek a lift.
“This [situation] is increasing the pressure on our own car parks, with passenger numbers now back at pre-Covid levels,” Mr McQueen said.
“With demand for our car parks expected to remain high through the summer months, passengers are advised to book their parking as far in advance as possible.”
It is the latest demand-led problem the airport has faced. Last year, in a situation repeated in other European airports, hundreds of passengers missed flights due to security staff shortages and consequent queue delays.
However, while the peak summer season has now begun - over 100,000 daily passengers are now expected - airport management is confident those staffing issues have been resolved. DAA had aimed to hire 811 security personnel and are now just short of 800.
Although there may be some peak queue times in line with busy periods, Mr McQueen said “because we have got the staffing where we need it to be we can make changes in real time. We are back to being a normal operation again”.
With passenger numbers approaching the 100,000 mark this week, queue times have topped out at about 20 minutes.
“We have had a pretty stable time,” Mr McQueen said. “Since the end of last summer, you were probably talking about nine out of 10 passengers getting through in under 20 minutes.”