New DAA boss slams decision on Dublin Airport charges

A DECISION by the aviation regulator not to allow for the recruitment of up to 240 extra security staff needed at Dublin Airport by 2026 will be branded “unwise and inexplicable” by the newly-appointed chief executive of the DAA, Kenny Jacobs, when he appears before a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Wednesday afternoon.

r Jacobs, a former chief marketing officer with Ryanair, will appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications as it considers Ireland’s new national aviation policy. He’ll also discuss security arrangements and passenger services at Dublin Airport.

Mr Jacobs will also call for higher passenger charges at the airport when he appears before committee members.

Dublin Airport was the focus of intense criticism early last summer as it struggled to get passengers through security on time for their flights.

“It’s very clear to us that passengers, airlines, Government and indeed this Committee, wish to see greater operational resilience at Dublin, and to restore efficiency and passenger experience to pre Covid levels,” Mr Jacobs will tell the committee.

“However, there is clearly a misalignment between the service quality standards which policy-makers and other stakeholders require from Dublin Airport and the revenues allowed by the regulatory system to fund them,” he’ll say. “The modelling done to arrive at the price cap needs to support greater resilience and service levels.”

“Issues around baggage handling, aircraft de-icing and opening times for airline check-in also need to be addressed by airlines and ground-handlers,” Mr Jacobs will urge. “We will continue to work with our airlines and handlers to ensure we all give our passengers a better service in this regard.”

Just before Christmas, the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR), issued a price determination for passenger charges at Dublin Airport – the only airport in the country where passenger charges are regulated.

It has set an average base-price cap of €7.59 per passenger for the 2023-2026 period. The charge cap will start at €7.59 this year. In 2024, 2025 and 2026, the price cap will be €7.53, €7.48 and €7.77 respectively.

The cap late last year was €8.11.

The final determination was much lower than the range of between €13.04 and €14.77 that had been sought by Dublin Airport.

Ryanair blasted the final pricing determination, claiming the charges are “unwarranted”.

But Mr Jacobs will reiterate on Wednesday that Dublin Airport already has the lowest charges of 18 similar-sized airports across Europe.

“At a time of record cost inflation – when airfares went up by over 40pc across Europe last summer and are expected to increase by 15-20pc this summer – it makes no sense that airport passenger charges remain substantially less than 2019 levels,” he’ll argue. “The reality is that changes in passenger charges have virtually no impact on the price that an airline charges for a flight.”

He’ll add: “We all want a Dublin Airport that is resilient and can grow and give passengers a better service. If this is what we want, then it must be reflected in National Aviation Policy and the regulated price needs to go up.”

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