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  • Northside West

Funding warning as North Runway milestone is reached

Thursday, 3rd October, 2019 8:00am
Funding warning as North Runway milestone is reached

daa chief executive Dalton Philips pictured as concrete was poured on the new North Runway at Dublin Airport. PHOTO: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Funding warning as North Runway milestone is reached

daa chief executive Dalton Philips pictured as concrete was poured on the new North Runway at Dublin Airport. PHOTO: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY

THE first concrete pavement for Dublin Airport’s new North Runway has been laid.

The start of construction of pavement quality concrete, which is the top layer of the new runway, is a key milestone for the €320 million North Runway project. 

The concrete was poured at the western end of the new runway, which is more than six times longer than Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

“We’re delighted to be starting to build the top pavement concrete layer of Ireland’s new runway,” said daa chief executive, Dalton Philips. “North Runway is an essential development for the Irish economy and will help underpin additional tourism, trade and foreign direct investment for decades to come.”

However, Mr Philips warned that the full economic benefits of the new runway risk being “squandered” in the medium term as Dublin Airport will be unable to afford the investment urgently needed in other facilities, unless the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) reverses its plan to cut airport charges by 22 percent”.

daa had intended to invest almost €2 billion to improve and expand facilities at Dublin Airport, while keeping its airport charges flat for the next five years. However, due to the regulator’s plans, the next phase of development has been stood down.

“Because of the regulator’s proposals we could end up with a world-class new runway, but a yellow pack passenger experience,” Mr Philips said. “That’s not what our customers want, and it’s not what Ireland needs.”

 

“Passenger numbers have increased by more than 50 percent in the past five years and to meet Government policy, Dublin Airport needs to expand,” added Mr Philips.

“The delivery of North Runway will address the bottleneck that we have in relation to runway capacity, as the existing main runway is effectively full at key times of the day. But the airport also urgently needs new boarding gate areas, more aircraft parking stands, and other improvements if Ireland is to maximise the benefits of the new runway. Dublin Airport is at the epicentre of the Irish economy, and Ireland’s connectivity needs to be further enhanced, particularly in the context of Brexit.”

Construction of the landmark North Runway development is progressing on time and on budget, with about 240 people currently employed onsite and a further 60 people working in support functions offsite.

The construction element of the project is due to be completed in early 2021 and this will be followed by about nine-months of commissioning and testing before the new runway becomes operational.

The new runway, which is part of Project Ireland 2040, is being funded through a combination of daa’s own revenues and borrowings. daa receives no financial support from the Irish State and has paid more than €100 million in dividends to the Exchequer over the past three years.

daa is seeking the amendment of what it describes as two onerous conditions that will apply once the new runway is built. It says these conditions would reduce capacity at key times of the day across the entire runway system at Dublin Airport. It says that if they were applied, Dublin Airport would have fewer flights between 11pm and 7am with two runways than it currently has with one.

Fingal County Council has recently been appointed as the independent Competent Authority for aircraft noise at Dublin Airport and it will consider daa’s application to amend the two conditions in question.

“We’re very mindful of our neighbours and the balance that the new Competent Authority has to strike between Ireland’s national needs and the concerns that some local residents have in relation to the runway development,” Mr Philips said.

“It has never been Dublin Airport’s intention to have lots more flights in the middle of the night. But the conditions propose significant restrictions on operations between 6am-7am, which is the airport’s busiest time of the day, and also between 11pm and midnight when Irish-based airlines need to get their aircraft back to base in order to enable them to operate their business.”

Meanwhile, Dublin Airport’s main runway is currently closed at night for essential maintenance. The work will continue each night between 11.30pm and 4.30am until Sunday morning, October 6. No work will take place on Sunday nights.

The work forms part of the upkeep and maintenance of the runway system at Dublin Airport and is critical for the safe operation of the airport.

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