Daa plans €40m development spend for Cork Airport over next four years

Cork Airport, file photo

The Daa expects to retain control of Cork Airport and plans to invest €40m in its development over the next four-to-five years.

The Government is due to review Cork's ownership later this year, as previously announced in its national aviation plan four years ago, but the Daa said it remains committed.

"We think we have been a really good custodian of the business in Cork. We would like Cork Airport to remain part of the Daa family. It's a key part of the business," said Daa chief executive Dalton Philips.

"We can do really good things with Cork and we're focused on making it a profitable part of the business in time."

He said that spinning out Cork from Daa control would not benefit the airport, suggesting Ireland does not have a great track record of independently-owned airports.

In its national aviation policy document in 2015, the Government said ownership of the State-run airports would be reviewed in 2019 and at five-year intervals thereafter. In 2015, it said Cork Airport could separate from the Daa should it make financial sense both for the airport and the Daa.

Cork is doing really well, passengers are up 16% over the past three years and we think its future is best served within the Daa Group," said Mr Philips.

"I would sit down with the chief executives of major airlines with our colleagues from Cork, but Cork wouldn’t get that if it was operating on its own. Cork gets the benefits of scale in areas such as IT and HR by being part of a larger group," said Mr Philips.

He was speaking on the back of the Daa reporting record post-tax profits of €133m for 2018 and a 5% rise in turnover to €897m.

The Daa will pay the State a dividend of €40m for last year, up 7% on 2017's total. Its net debt fell by 18% to €441m last year. However, it hopes to tap the European Investment Bank for a €200m loan to fund a range of development activities at Dublin Airport.

Mr Philips said there is no need to build a third terminal at Dublin, with there being "ample room" to improve capacity at the existing two terminals.

The Daa is due, later this year, to put its case for the amendment of noise restriction conditions to Fingal County Council, ahead of the completion of Dublin's new runway in 2021. The company said failure to remove the restrictions would "decimate" the airport's busiest times of the day and have "a hugely negative effect on the entire Irish economy for decades to come".

Mr Philips said the Daa has no interest - via its international investment arm - to bid for overseas airports but will continue to seek consultancy contracts with airport operators.

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