Record numbers of passengers passed through Dublin airport last year, making it one of the fastest-growing capital city airports in Europe.
The number of people travelling through the airport rose by five per cent to 15.1 million, figures released today showed.
Passenger numbers were also up at Cork and Shannon airports, Aer Rianta revealed.
There was an average 4% increase in the number of people travelling through the three airports.
The firm announced profits of €30.9m for the year ending December 31, 2002, although turnover was down by 4%.
Speaking at the launch of Aer Rianta’s annual report, chairman Noel Hanlon said he expected the growth to continue.
But he warned that uncertainty over the possibility of a new private terminal at Dublin airport could delay essential infrastructure being put in place.
He said if it was not resolved, the “chaos” of the mid-1990s could be repeated.
Mr Hanlon said the issue was entirely a matter for the IGovernment and said his company could not comment on the plans.
He warned that breaking up the company would badly affect the performance of Irish airports.
And he hit out at a stunt carried out by budget airline Ryanair outside the launch at an upmarket Dublin hotel.
Ryanair placed a coffin and hearse along with a grim reaper outside the Merrion Hotel, claiming that the “Aer Rianta monopoly” was killing Irish tourism.
Mr Hanlon reacted by claiming the carrier tried to hijack everything including the press conference, and criticised Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary.
“You wouldn’t get that in Duffy’s Circus,” he said.
“It’s a pity they didn’t put O’Leary into the coffin.”