Potential freeze on private business jets at Dublin Airport would ‘greatly hinder’ foreign direct investment in Ireland

Aviation source says while private jet cap may have appearance of simply inconveniencing ‘fat cats’, they are often those critical to commercial operations in Ireland

A potential freeze on private business jets at Dublin Airport due to mounting pressure on its passenger cap “will greatly hinder” foreign direct investment in Ireland, the Irish Ambassador to the US has been warned.

Although efforts to expand the airport’s 32 million passenger cap are under way, it has been suggested some passenger allocation be temporarily moved to preserve non-commercial business aviation.

Concerns over their potential curtailment have been officially communicated to both Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason and her US counterpart in Dublin, Claire Cronin, by a Washington-based aviation business group.

DAA, which operates the airport, applied for an increase to its annual passenger cap to 40 million last month but this could remain under consideration until 2025. In November, DAA chief executive Kenny Jacobs told politicians measures to keep within capacity during 2024 would affect flights used by business executives and those scheduled by carriers for major sporting events.


However the US-based National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), which represents over 11,000 companies and professionals, has zeroed in on business aviation, setting out is fears for potential impacts on the Irish economy. It defines the “business aviation community” as companies using different types of aircraft outside scheduled airlines from single-pilot airplanes to international turbine aircraft. The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) includes the terms private jets, corporate aviation and air taxi.

“For US companies employing thousands of Irish citizens, business aviation is a foundational tool for competing in a global marketplace,” NBAA chief executive Ed Bolen outlined in correspondence with the ambassadors this month. “It is no exaggeration to say that the ban being proposed by the DAA will greatly hinder Ireland’s attractiveness as a location for foreign direct investment.”

Mr Bolen suggested a stopgap solution that would allocate 20,000 passengers from the current 32 million quota to business aviation, representing “a mere 0.0625 per cent of the passenger limit”.

One aviation source, requesting anonymity, noted that while a private jet cap may have the appearance of simply inconveniencing “fat cats”, they are often those critical to commercial operations in Ireland.

The NBAA also outlined similar aborted moves elsewhere, in particular an effort to ban business jets at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport which was ultimately suspended.

In response DAA said it agreed with the NBAA contention that its cap has the potential to negatively impact on Ireland’s attractiveness as an investment location.

“But until planning stipulations change DAA will work to remain in compliance with the current 32 million cap which was imposed under previous planning permissions,” a spokesman said. “The current cap on Dublin Airport is not necessary, and is bad for the travelling public and Ireland.”

The co-ordination of aircraft slots in Ireland is carried out by a dedicated committee which is overseen by the Irish Aviation Authority and open to all airlines operating at Dublin Airport.

“The current cap is leading to discussions with all aviation customers, including those who operate general aviation and charter flights, and DAA will continue to work with the slot co-ordination process to try to achieve the best outcome,” the spokesman said.

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Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times