The operator of Dublin and Cork airports made a loss of €103m last year as it continues to add new staff members to meet the surging demand for air travel following the pandemic.
Publishing its annual report for 2021, the daa Group said total losses since the start of the pandemic now stand at €387m. Turnover was €324m in the year, an increase of 11% on 2020, driven in the main by retail revenues.
So far this year, Dublin Airport has carried more than 11.4 million passengers, a 1,085% increase on last year but still 23% below 2019 levels. However, the daa said that the months of June and July will see passenger levels through Dublin Airport exceed 2019 levels highlighting the surging demand for foreign holidays after two years of pandemic-related restrictions.
Cork Airport has handled 879,290 passengers so far this year, a 2,399% increase on last year but also down 23% on 2019.
Dalton Philips, the daa's outgoing Chief Executive, said staff levels at Dublin Airport for security screening were now approaching pre-pandemic levels. Dublin Airport has seen large security queues at peak periods as the airport adds back staff.
"Despite over 1,000 employees leaving the business through a voluntary severance scheme at the height of the pandemic and other major cost-cutting efforts, daa has reported Covid-related losses of over €387m over the past two years," he said.
"As a result, Dublin Airport entered 2022 with significantly diminished staffing capacity, some months ahead of the steepest rise in air travel in its history.
"Though Dublin Airport expects to have doubled its security screening staff to 920 staff over the coming weeks, challenges remain. Peak volumes after two years of domestic vacationing, alongside staffing challenges facing the airlines and other airport partners that operate at Dublin Airport across check-in, baggage handling, and retail and hospitality services, are impacting customer experience, something daa is working hard to address in collaboration with our aviation partners and airlines."
The daa Group invested €163m in infrastructure projects during 2021. Almost 68% of this was accounted for by three projects; the reconstruction of the main runway at Cork Airport, investment in Hold Baggage Screening systems at both airports and the construction of the North Runway at Dublin Airport which will open in August.