Charges set to rise at Dublin Airport

PASSENGER charges will increase next month at Dublin Airport as the country’s three biggest airports take a hit of €8 million from the volcanic ash crisis as 3,200 flights were cancelled.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said, excluding the costs of a restructuring plan, profits plunged 51% last year to €38m.

As passenger numbers at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports dropped by 13% to just over 26 million, turnover fell 13% to €547m. Dublin Airport passenger numbers were down 13% to 20.5 million, Cork fell 15% to 2.4 million and Shannon was down 12% to 2.8 million.

DAA chief executiveDeclan Collier, whose pay has fallen almost €40,000 over the last two years to €308,000 said passenger charges at Dublin Airport will increase as planned in May as the company aims to recoup losses. He insisted that the airport will remain very competitive when compared with other airports in Europe.

“The increase in charges are essential and will help to stabilise the business,” he said. Passenger charges will increase at Dublin from €7.40 to €9.90 per passenger over five years.

Earlier this year, the DAA agreed a deal with unions, which saw 400 people leave the company which was aimed at saving €40m. The DAA took a €46.5m charge linked to the deal, meaning it made an after-tax loss of €13m last year.

Staff earning more than €30,000 have taken a reduction in pay on a sliding scale of up to 12% and pay rates have been frozen until 2011. Mr Collier said further jobs cuts will depend on the success of the operation of Dublin Airport’s new Terminal Two, which is due to open in October.

Profits at Aer Rianta International, which manages the DAA’s overseas airports’ businesses, fell 47% to €13.4m.

“The Irish economy has been particularly hard hit by the downturn, causing a sharp decline in passenger numbers and consumer spending last year which had a significant impact on our business,” said Mr Collier.

There have been no recent moves on a plan to separate Cork Airport from the DAA, according to Mr Collier, who said when the Government is ready to proceed with plans it will co-operate.

The DAA said it had waived aircraft parking charges for its customers during the week of the airspace closures.

According to the annual report, earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation fell 19% to €126m last year. To help fund the required investments in infrastructure at Dublin Airport, gross debt was €1.25bn at year-end, with net debt at €616m.


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