DAA bid to raise cap on airport fliers to 35 million

THE DAA has entered preliminary discussions with An Bord Pleanála about raising the cap on the number of passengers that Dublin Airport can handle, from 32 million to 35 million.

The construction of Terminal 2, which opened a decade ago, was subject to a planning condition that included the current maximum number of passengers that could use the airport.

But Dublin Airport is on track to handle more than 30 million passengers this year.

Even a 5pc rise in passenger numbers during 2019 would see it approach the current cap.

The DAA wrote to An Bord Pleanála earlier this year to initiate a pre-consultation process, which has now begun.

A DAA spokesman said the 32 million passenger condition was imposed largely due to surface transport limitations.

But he said that since the planning application for T2 was lodged in 2006, the number of passengers using public transport to access the airport has increased from 26pc to 37pc, while the percentage of people using cars has fallen from 44pc to 31pc.

The semi-State body probably hasn’t immediately sought to increase the cap beyond 35 million passengers a year. That’s because it is engaged in a consultation process about expansion plans, which are likely to give it a clearer indication at a later stage about its likely future growth pattern.

Passenger numbers have surged in recent years, as an improving economy, route expansion and a growing level of transfer traffic have boosted activity.

The airport handled 29.6 million passengers last year, which includes 1.8 million transit passengers who used it as a hub.

New services this year will have helped to lift the total figure to more than 30 million.

This year, the airport has benefited from new services to cities including Hong Kong, Beijing and Seattle. Next year, new destinations – including Dallas and Minneapolis-St Paul – will be added.

In tandem with seeking to increase the existing passenger cap, the DAA is also contemplating additional car parking facilities to accommodate the increase in numbers.

Recently, property developer Gerry Gannon sought permission to make a 41-acre site near Dublin Airport a permanent car park.

The site, which accommodates over 6,200 cars, has been operating on a temporary basis since it first opened nearly 20 years ago.

It is leased to QuickPark, the company controlled by John O’Sullivan, the founder and former owner of AirCoach.

Planners for Mr Gannon noted that QuickPark is one of three authorised long-term car parks serving Dublin Airport.

The DAA operates about 19,180 long-term car parking spaces at two such facilities.

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