Cassells report fails to carve up airports

FORMER trade union boss Peter Cassells yesterday recommended that Dublin Airport make a contribution of €10 million to Cork for pensions and other funding requirements in the separation of the two airports.

The report, commissioned by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey, focused on how Cork Airport’s €220m debt should be divided between Cork and the Dublin Airport Authority in the event of a final separation.

Agreement should be sought from the European Investment Bank to transfer €113m from the DAA to the Cork Airport Authority, reducing Dublin’s indebtedness. Development land at Cork Airport and the Brooklyn business park, valued between €50 to €70m, should be handed over by the DAA, it states.

“In the context of an overall funding solution, the DAA should make a contribution of up to €10m to assist the CAA in meeting pension and other funding requirements. This would provide the Cork authority with a funding solution post separation of €20m to €40m while reducing the DAA’s indebtedness by €113m,” Mr Cassells states. However, he said that “while significant progress was made, regrettably despite their best efforts the parties were unable for a number of reasons to reach final agreement”.

Cork Fine Gael TD Bernard Allen responded angrily to the recommendations that, he said, were “totally unacceptable”.

Transferring the €113m loan to CAA would become “a millstone around the neck of an already struggling airport,” said Mr Allen.

And to transfer ownership of lands adjacent to Cork Airport would in no way alleviate the financial dire straits of the CAA. “Any moves to sell these lands in order to raise cash to clear the debt would hinder the future development of Cork Airport,” he said.

The report was meant to be finalised by March 7 but had its period extended.

Mr Dempsey stated that the report sets out a number of conclusions on the issues raised by the parties as a possible way forward for separation.

“In Mr Cassells’ view, the differing conclusions reached by the DAA and the CAA arise from assumptions made about future risks, the value placed on those risks and the provision to be made for future capital expenditure. Having considered them, I believe they represent a sensible solution, which I would urge both parties to accept,” he said. Adopting the proposals would allow Cork to achieve autonomy, he said.

Report findings

Agreement from the European Investment Bank to transfer the EIB facility of €113m from the DAA to the Cork Airport Authority.

Development land in the precincts of Cork Airport and the Brooklyn business park, valued at €50 to €70m, should be transferred to Cork.

In an overall solution, the DAA should make a contribution of up to €10m to assist the CAA in meeting pension and other funding requirements.

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