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An Emirates 777-300ER in Dusseldorf (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

Ireland’s Asian Expansion Could Extend Dublin Airport

Since Emirates started in Dublin back in 2012, the eastern network from Ireland has only grown. Qatar Airways commenced operations to the Irish capital in 2016, Etihad increased schedules to Abu Dhabi and this year, both China’s Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific are starting services to the Far East.

For Emirates, its Irish investment is paying off. Ireland’s Emirates boss Enda Corneille has said that load factors are at 80 percent and that there are increasing numbers of advance bookings being made on the airline for Irish flights, saying there were “stellar results” from the country in a competitive market.

As it stands, there are two daily flights between the capital city and Dubai offered by Emirates, but the airline has made plans to upgrade to three. However, these plans have remained on hold.

The reasoning behind the pause is most likely due to the airport itself, Corneille states that without improved facilities and infrastructure in place, reaching a target set by the DAA – Dublin’s Airport Authority – would mean an unpleasant experience for passengers.

But, the DAA disagree and believe that the two terminals can support double their current passenger figures and that there isn’t any pressure on terminal capacity, but perhaps on stands and boarding gates.

So, what may be the best option to cope with the new market of travelers? Corneille believes extending one of the existing terminals, or even a third terminal, should be a plan that the DAA should consider.

Dublin Airport already has plans in place for a new runway, and the industry has always believed a third terminal to be a part of extension plans. So far, Dublin doesn’t have any stands that could accommodate an A380, which Corneille says Emirates is keen to use on the route to get maximum profitability.

Right now, the two Emirates flights to Dubai put pressure on Dublin and the addition of even more Asian routes this year will not be any help, so extending the airport is something that the authorities will have to consider if they hope to hit the 55 million mark.

Building the extra runway is currently under scrutiny by Ryanair, as the DAA is continuously quoting higher costs than what was originally stated. The airline will support the new runway, but it believes the new costs proposed by the DAA has increased significantly in comparison to the initial forecasted costs.

Although the Irish government says that the project is ‘value for money’ and necessary to meet the current needs for tourism, Ryanair compares the project to the construction of a second runway at Manchester Airport in the UK almost 20 years ago, as it costed much less than what the DAA is quoting for this project.

However, since Manchester’s second runway was finished, construction inflation has increased pricing the project much higher than Dublin’s plans at today’s exchange rate. Additionally, Dublin’s new runway would be larger than Manchester’s second runway, making the project better value for money and making Ryanair’s claims invalid.

Until the runway is completed, Emirates will be left operating their two daily services. But there could be a tight squeeze at the airport when Hainan and Cathay Pacific begin operations later this year.

This story was updated on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 to correct an error in AirlineGeeks’ reporting regarding the new runway construction and terminal capacity. We have updated the article to reflect the information.

Connor Sadler
Connor Sadler
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