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Dublin Airport “Turns Airlines Away” Due to Passenger Capacity Limits

The DAA requests capacity increase to 40 million passengers per year, but it will take time.

A Ryanair 737 at Paine Field. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is to seek permission to increase the passenger cap from the current level of 32 million per year, according to Reuters. The passenger capacity level at Dublin Airport (DUB) was set over ten years ago when approval was gained for the construction of a second terminal. The DAA is expected to seek approval to increase the limit to 40 million passengers annually ‘in line with Ireland’s projected population growth.’

In a press release earlier this month, Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) chief executive officer Kenny Jacobs stated: “Central to Dublin Airport’s ability to meet the demands of passengers and our airline partners in the years ahead will be permission to grow Dublin Airport further to meet Ireland’s demand for international travel. DAA will submit an application to Fingal County Council shortly to grow beyond the current 32 million cap in order to support the population increase and continue to enable new jobs growth and connectivity for Ireland.”

Appearing before an Irish parliamentary committee this week, Reuters reports Jacobs stating: “We have turned a few airlines away and told a few other airlines that they can’t grow.” This is the result of a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic which has seen DUB reach 2019 levels of passenger traffic approaching the 32 million per annum cap.

“We are flagging that we might need to do more next year,” added Jacobs. “We have removed a growth incentive that we used to have in place for airlines because we’re saying, Look, we are managing to the cap and we’re not going to be incentivizing new growth.”

Ryanair grew 11 percent year-on-year

Dublin airport is the main base of Europe’s largest airline Ryanair and dominates operations from DUB. The carrier estimates that it will carry 16 million passengers from DUB this year after recently operating its largest-ever summer schedule from the airport. The carrier was operating over 2000 flights per week to 130 destinations in 27 countries from DUB.

In its recent half-yearly results (to 30 September), Ryanair posted an 11 percent increase in passengers over the same period last year. The airline group’s chief executive officer Michael O’Leary recently advised that Ryanair is targeting over 300 million passengers across its network by 2034.

The DAA will have to wait at least two years for any approval to increase the passenger cap to 40 million. In the meantime, Jacobs has said: “We’re looking forward to a busy Christmas period at Dublin Airport and we’ve a firm eye on 2024 also, with discussions underway with our airline partners regarding their schedules for next spring, summer and beyond, ensuring that passenger numbers for the year will remain below the 32 million level.”

The city of Dublin is scheduled to host some major sporting events in 2024 including the final of the Europa League football tournament as well as Six Nations rugby games. The passenger cap may affect the ability of airlines to operate extra charter flights for those seeking to attend these events, said Jacobs. Advising that flights carrying fans may instead have to operate to Cork, Shannon or Belfast airports.

John Flett


  • John Flett

    John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John has held the positions of course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and has been a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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