Limerick Chamber, the largest business representative organisation in the Mid-West, comprising of over 400 member organisations who employ approximately 50,000 workers in the region, has this week lodged an objection to the planning application submitted by Dublin Airport Authority (daa). The daa application seeks permission to expand the airport, develop greenfield sites and adjoining public roads in addition to increase annual passenger numbers above the existing cap of 32 million passengers per anum, by an additional 8million passengers to an annual 40million passengers.
In a lengthy submission to Fingal County Council, Limerick Chamber strongly objected to the proposed expansion of Dublin Airports facilities when there is “significant under-utilised capacity in other state-owned airports.”
CEO, Dee Ryan, said “Limerick Chamber has long been calling for national aviation policy to be up-dated as it is out of touch with the goals of Project Ireland 2040 and the Climate Action Plan.”
Continuing she said “The national importance of Dublin Airport is acknowledged but we do not need to build new facilities at Dublin to increase connectivity for the country – significant capacity already exists in regional airport facilities around the country which are not being fully harnessed for the benefit of the economy. Shannon Airport for example has capacity to handle an additional 3 million people per annum in its existing buildings and facilities which would take them from their current levels of 1.9million passengers to their maximum capacity at 5million.”
“Multiple studies have evidenced the link between international connectivity in regional airports and regional economic growth. We know that business routes, specific strategic routes that support clusters of industry, translate into investment and more opportunities that’s why we advocate for better connectivity for Shannon, and in our view both Shannon and Cork, which are state owned airports and should be better supported by Government to deliver these strategic routes.”
However, Ms Ryan said the starting point for passenger number growth for regional airports is with a review of national aviation policy. “Limerick Chamber have been vocal advocates for this over a number of years, and this weeks submission spares no Department of Transport blushes in laying out the stark difference between Ireland and other European countries when it comes to capital airport domination. In Switzerland, for example, just 55% of all flights to the country go to Zurich where as in Ireland 85% of all flights go to Dublin. We can’t continue this unrestricted growth at Dublin Airport and Fingal County Council must take a take a broader view of the overall national aviation landscape when they are adjudicating on this expansion application.”
The Limerick Chamber submission argues for a more balanced approach, calling the application in the absence of a review of National Aviation Policy ‘premature’, and emphasises that maximising the existing capacity of other state-owned airports should take precedence ahead of permitting an increase in passenger numbers at Dublin Airport in order to achieve regional and national development goals.
While supporting the upgrading of Dublin Airport’s existing facilities, Limerick Chamber also stated that a strong interconnected network of international airports is crucial for both businesses and the wider economy. It warned that policy deficits, if unaddressed, could make Project Ireland 2040 an unrealised dream.
The submission also highlighted the ever-increasing time frame for delivery of the MetroLink project, which it says is crucial for the expansion of Dublin Airport.
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