DAA begins court action seeking to increase maximum level of charges

DAA begins court action seeking to increase maximum level of charges

The Commission for Aviation Regulation said it expected passenger numbers at Dublin Airport to grow at a faster rate than previously expected. Picture: Dominic McGrath/PA Wire

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has gone to the High Court in protest at the maximum level of passenger airport charges the aviation commission says it can charge at Dublin Airport.

DAA has lodged two sets of proceedings against the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR), one of which is a judicial review of the commission’s most recent decision regarding charges, published on December 23 last.

Airport charges are paid by airlines for the use of airport facilities and are payable for aircraft landing, freight, and other charges relating to the use of airport infrastructure such as runways and passenger terminals. They are calculated on a per-passenger basis.

In its December decision, CAR had lowered the level of airport charges at Dublin Airport from the €8.52 outlined in its own draft decision.

Instead, amended price caps of €7.59, €7.53, €7.48, and €7.77 will apply for 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026 respectively, per the Commission.

At the time, the CAR said it had deviated from its own draft decision given it expected passenger numbers at Dublin Airport to grow at a faster rate than previously expected. 

It said it expected that the levels it had set would allow Dublin Airport to collect €1.4bn in charges over the next four years.

DAA had lobbied for a higher price range of between €13.04 and €14.77, primarily due to a forecast higher cost of capital and expected higher operating costs in the coming years.

At the time, the commission acknowledged that there was a “significant difference” between its own estimates and that of Dublin Airport.

'Contrary to the public interest'

DAA has said it took the decision to bring legal proceedings “reluctantly”, after “much consideration and review by independent experts”.

A spokesperson for the authority said that it had repeatedly asserted that whatever charges were set by the commission should be “at a level which allows Dublin Airport to meet the challenge of recovering from the covid-19 pandemic and to deliver a high-quality service”.

“DAA considers CAR’s recent determination undeliverable and contrary to the public interest,” they said.

The commission had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

The DAA spokesperson said that passenger charges post-covid-19 should “factor in the learnings from last summer and before the next economic, health, or other crisis impacts our ability to deliver excellence in a sustainable way”.

They said that DAA is challenging only “those crucial parts of the determination that go to the core of undermining Dublin Airport’s mission to provide a secure, resilient, and safe experience for our passengers”.

They added that the authority has written to the commission inviting it to “remedy the discrete aspects of its decision as an alternative to litigation”.

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