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Dublin Airport Wants to Expand Despite North Runway Restrictions

After record-breaking passenger volumes, the airport is seeking additional expansion opportunities.

Aer Lingus is the largest carrier at Dublin Airport. (Photo: Dublin Airport)

DAA, the airport operator of Ireland’s Dublin and Cork airports, revealed that Dublin Airport had handled 2.2 million in November, a 4% increase compared to the same time last year. 95% of those passengers passed through security screening within 15 minutes, the airport authority said.

In addition, Cork Airport is expected to experience its busiest year in its history. 191,000 passengers passed through the airport in the last month, a 14% increase over November 2022. The airport – located in southern Ireland – is forecast to handle 2.75 million passengers in 2023.

“December will be a very busy and important month for us at our Irish airports as we facilitate the journeys of millions of passengers coming home for Christmas.” Kenny Jacobs, CEO of DAA said in a press release.

At the same time, the DAA is also looking at relaxing restrictions on Dublin’s north runway. The aircraft currently can’t use the north runway from 11 pm.. to 7 a.m. Instead, the airport is seeking to allow aircraft to use the runway between 6 a.m. and midnight. The north runway was officially launched in August 2022. In response to air traffic noise, the DAA has provided households around the airport €20,000 ($21,600) to insulate their homes.

InterVista, a consultancy firm, said the runway restrictions put a strain on the airport, losing out on a positive economic impact of €262 million in 2024. It also unveiled that the economy will lose out on an additional 3,130 jobs. Another report from Mott McDonald Global Aviation has shed new light on the airport’s capacity with it expected to handle 39.6 million passengers and 46.6 million by the end of 2030 and 2040 respectively after relaxing the restrictions.

The airport’s capacity has been limited to a cap of 32 million passengers since launching the north runway. The airport hit the mark after the pandemic, handling 28.1 million passengers and recorded a profit of €98 million in 2022.

Relaxing the Restrictions

According to the DAA, there were over 100 aircraft movements between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. in 2019. The current restrictions would reduce 65 air movement as a result. The majority of this movement takes place during the hours of 6 -7 a.m. and 11 p.m. to midnight. The airport said the restrictions were set in 2007. Two major airlines of Dublin Airport, Ryanair and Aer Lingus, own a large number of new aircraft which are 50% quieter.

The DAA is desperate to relax the rules so that Dublin Airport can compete with other European airports, such as Copenhagen, Barcelona, and Vienna. But new operating times are not for everyone; local residents said the new proposal is unacceptable.

Meanwhile, Dublin Airport has proposed a plan for 40 million passengers, revealing an expansion of both the north and south aprons; improvement of Terminal 1 security; new aircraft stands on the west end of the airfield, and enhanced drainage infrastructure.

“The continued sustainable development of the airport to meet this growing demand will be crucial to facilitating the level of growth in tourism, trade, investment and jobs that’s recognized and required by government policy,” Jacobs said.

Pete Ainsley


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