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Is Dublin Airport feeling the capacity squeeze?


As Dublin Airport heads for its 7th consecutive year of growth with a projected throughput of some 30 million passengers – almost 5 times the population of the island of Ireland – it is not all plain sailing.

From 18.4 million passengers in 2010 (when Terminal 2 opened), this year’s expected figure represents an increase of over 11 million or 63% (the figure for aircraft movements is approx. 40%). Such unprecedented growth places the airport at the top of Europe’s fastest growing major airports (defined as those above 25 million passengers per annum) but it also raises important questions about whether the pace of infrastructural development is matching the pace of customer needs.


 
 

Dublin Airport Annual Passenger Throughput (2017 estimated)


These questions have resulted in one of its biggest customers – IAG-owned Aer Lingus – stating that relations had ‘soured immensely’ over the past year. Starting with the CEO of Aer Lingus, Stephen Kavanagh, claiming in February of this year that Dublin Airport was turning away traffic and ‘already constraining growth in 2018’, the CEO of IAG then followed up a few months later expressing his disappointment with its ‘infrastructural bottlenecks’, and just last week – at the launch of the carrier’s new Philadelphia service – raising the possibility that aircraft would be redeployed to other IAG routes if the airport did not address deficits in its facilities. Specifically, the airline pointed to baggage systems, aircraft parking standards, and aircraft taxiways as not meeting the standards required but it seems to be the utilisation of same that the airline is questioning as its submission to the Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation’s capacity review a few years ago (pre-IAG ownership) did not seek additional capital expenditure.

For its part, the airport authority refutes allegations of shortcomings in infrastructure and states that it is investing 100 million euros per year in meeting the needs of its customers, including the provision of a new boarding gate facility scheduled for opening later this year.

With plans for the construction of the new runway recently reactivated, indications that a third terminal will be needed in the next 20/30 years, and numerous Brexit-related opportunities opening up in the short term, the future looks anything but dull for Ireland’s capital city airport.


Padraic currently holds the position of Ussher Assistant Professor in International Strategic Management at Trinity College Dublin. His career to date has spanned both academic and industry worlds. Academically, he obtained his PhD in Strategy from University College Dublin's Smurfit Graduate School in 2009 (he also attained a BA, BComm and MBA from UCD). His experience in management education exceeds twenty years and he has worked for a number of third-level institutions, including the Open University Business School and the Irish American University in Dublin. Commercially, Padraic worked for over twenty years in the aviation sector, specifically Airport Management, and he has held a number of Senior Management positions in Aer Rianta (now Dublin Airport Authority) and Aer Rianta International Middle East, including Head of Business Strategy, Head of Marketing, Head of Business Development, and Head of Services (Operations). Germany, Oman, Turkey and Yemen are just some of the countries where Padraic has undertaken Aviation Consultancy projects. Padraic's current responsibilities include MSc in Management Programme Director, BESS Committee Member, College Tutor, UG and PG Committee Member and Senior Sophister Year Coordinator. Research interests focus on strategic decision-making processes, entrepreneurship, cross-cultural management, and academic integrity. Industry research focuses on Aviation Management.

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