The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) yesterday issued a statement acknowledging the Commission for Aviation Regulation's (CAR) final determination on passenger charges for the 2010-2015 period and says it will now review the 180-page report in
detail to assess its likely impact on Dublin Airport.
In its statement, the DAA said: ‘CAR, which is the independent body which sets passenger charges at Dublin Airport, has today (December 4) issued a determination on pricing that contains many variables. The most likely scenario envisaged by CAR is that the average maximum passenger charge will increase to E.9.97 ($14.81) for the next five years.
‘This charge includes a fee for the provision of services to persons with reduced mobility (PRM), which was never previously included in the passenger charge. So on a like-for-like basis, the maximum average passenger charge will increase to E.9.80 ($14.55), a 33% increase over the five-year period.
‘Airport charges at Dublin Airport have fallen by 30% in real terms over the past 20 years. The increase that has been suggested by the aviation regulator, will keep the airport's passenger charge highly competitive compared to Dublin Airport's European peers, as they have an average charge of E.12.50 ($18.57) per passenger.
‘This maximum fee proposed by CAR covers the cost of operating a major international airport, and also the significant investments that have been made in new and improved facilities for passengers and airlines using Dublin Airport over the past four years.’
HEADING OFF THE OPPOSITION
Perhaps anticipating the criticism that was to come of these proposed charges after they were announced, DAA Ceo Declan Collier was quick to point out that the passenger charges at Dublin Airport 'offer consumers genuine value for money'.
He said: ‘The passenger charge has to fund the operation of Dublin Airport 365 days per year and makes a huge contribution towards the running costs of passenger facilities and critical equipment and services on the airfield. The charge also has to fund the cost of essential new facilities that are radically improving the passenger experience at Dublin Airport and providing the essential infrastructure for future growth.’
The DAA added that a series of independent studies by Airports Council International (ACI), CAR, and others, have all confirmed that Dublin Airport's charges 'are amongst the lowest of comparable airports in Europe'. The ACI study found that airport charges at Dublin, which is Europe's tenth largest airport for international traffic, are cheaper than those at airports such as Stansted, Gatwick, Brussels, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Zurich, Vienna, Munich, Oslo, and Athens. The DAA said: ‘The average price charged by the airports in the 2008 study was E.12.50 ($18.57) at a time when the maximum passenger charge at Dublin Airport was just E.7.38 ($10.96).’
HEAVY INVESTMENT ALREADY MADE
The DAA added that in recent years it has had to invest heavily to address the inadequate facilities that had pertained at Dublin Airport, for the benefit of passengers, airlines and the entire Irish economy. It also pointed out that this E.1.2bn ($1.7bn) investment programme, which includes the E.609m ($905m) T2 project, is being undertaken without any State funding and is aimed at improving, expanding and modernising Dublin Airport for many decades to come.
The DAA said: ‘New passenger facilities that have been delivered and are already in use include the Pier D boarding gates, which radically improved comfort levels for passengers as they wait to board their aircraft. And the extension to Terminal 1, which has improved the passenger journey to Piers A and D, and also greatly enhanced the airside catering and retail facilities, the income from which directly subsidises airport charges.
‘Unseen to most visitors to the airport, the DAA has also been investing in new airfield capacity with E.80m ($119m) worth of additional aircraft parking stands, taxi-ways and aprons, all of which help increase the efficiency of the airport. About E.50m ($74m) has also been invested to upgrade the electricity, gas, water, waste and communications services throughout the airport campus.’The DAA adds that the centre piece of this investment programme is T2, Dublin Airport's new passenger terminal, which is due to open in November 2010.
Collier said: ‘T2 will transform the travel experience for passengers using Dublin Airport. The new terminal was not designed and built for next year, but rather for the decades and the many millions of travellers to come. To view T2 merely through the prism of the current downturn is a hugely short-sighted position. T2 is the right terminal, at the right cost and will help position Ireland to take full advantage of the upturn when it comes.’