Published on January 4th, 2016 | by Jim Lee


Dublin Airport end of the year round-up

Having reached 22 million passengers by 9th November, compared to 21.7 million passengers for the full year to December 2014, Dublin Airport is well on track for a record-breaking number of passengers in 2015. With more than 925,000 passengers expected to travel through the airport over the course of the Christmas season (18th December – 1st January), up 18% compared to the same period last year, the 2014 total of 21,712,169, will be comfortably exceeded. Looking back to 2010 when the airport handled 18,431,064, it is hard to believe that this was in fact a 10% decrease in the 2009 passenger numbers. The drop followed several years of significant passenger growth at the airport, before the start of the global economic crisis in 2009. Fortunately, this was followed by a modest growth of 2% in 2011, when 18,740,593 passengers were handled, while 2012 with 19,099,649, and 2013 with 20,167,783, showed sustained improvements. Dublin airport’s busiest year was 2008 when almost 23.5 million passengers used the airport.

In the second last month of the year, over 1.8 million passengers travelled through the airport, according to figures for November, released on 7th December. This was a 16% increase on the same month in 2014. This brought the total from January to November to almost 23.3 million passengers, a 16% increase over the same period in 2014. Over 3.1 million additional passengers have been welcomed through Dublin Airport in that period.

In November, passenger volumes to and from continental Europe grew by 19%, with almost 841,000 people travelling to European destinations during the month. UK traffic recorded a 13% increase to more than 768,000 passengers, while Transatlantic volumes increased by 22%, with more than 163,000 passengers travelling to and from North America, during the month. Other international passenger traffic, which includes flights to the Middle East and Africa, increased by 6% with almost 57,000 passengers travelling this route sector in November. Finally, passenger numbers on domestic flights rose by 4%, with just over 6,000 travelling on domestic routes during the month.

Christmas at Dublin Airport

Dublin Airport is a truly magical place at Christmas time with many wonderful, emotional family reunions. Some of these were captured in this news report by RTE. Friday, 18th December was expected to be the busiest day before Christmas, with almost 80,000 passengers due to arrive and depart through both terminals, while Sunday, 27th December was expected to be the busiest day after Christmas particularly with passengers heading to winter sun and skiing destinations. As usual the Dublin Airport campus and terminal buildings were beautifully decorated to give a special atmosphere to the airport over this festive season. Some 90,000 led lights decked the terminals; however they use significantly less electricity than traditional lighting. Just as well, with more than 100 Christmas trees, 500 snowflakes/stars and 20 festive displays, to be powered. More than 30 musical groups from local schools and choirs performed in both terminals in the days leading up to Christmas, bringing a true ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’ to the many people coming home for the Christmas Holidays and to those visiting Ireland from overseas.

Dublin Airport Christmas Lights at  T2

Dublin Airport Christmas Lights at T2

Flight operations ceased on Christmas Eve as the airport is closed on Christmas Day, although a number of staff members remained on duty, including the daa’s emergency fire services. The last flight was an Air Moldova, Airbus A319-112, ER-AXL, which operated the 9U832 to Chisinau, just after 23:00. Flights resumed on St. Stephen’s Day with the arrival of the first of the Ethiopian services from Addis Ababa.

Two significant milestones recorded

Dublin Airport recorded two significant passenger milestones during the December. The first was on 16th December when Philomena Linton, who lives in Malahide, became the one millionth passenger to use the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at Dublin Airport this year. The newly married New Yorker, who married her Irish husband in Kilkenny on Dublin Airport T2’s fifth birthday, was enroute to New York and was travelling with Delta Airlines. Delta Airlines together with Aer Lingus, American Airlines, and United Airlines offer direct flights from Dublin Airport to New York JFK, Newark, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Orlando, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Charlotte.

Dublin Airport's 1 Million CBP passenger

US CBP, Port Director Dublin, Tish Lagerwey; Philamena Linton and Dublin Airport Managing Director, Vincent Harrison.

“Dublin Airport’s transatlantic traffic grew by 42% between 2010 and 2014,” according to Dublin Airport Managing Director, Vincent Harrison. “Strong double digit growth again this year means that last year’s record number of over 2.1 million passengers travelling to destinations in the US is set to be surpassed” and this is the first time since T2 opened in 2010 that a million people have passed through US CPB in a single year.

Dublin Airport was Europe’s sixth largest airport for transatlantic connectivity this summer. Only the main European hubs of Heathrow, Schiphol, Paris CDG, Madrid and Frankfurt, had more flights to the United States and Canada, than Dublin this summer.

“This is a significant achievement in the airport’s 75 year history. Dublin Airport is the only major airport in Europe to offer US preclearance which enables passengers to save time on arrival in the US by completing all the necessary immigration and customs checks prior to departure” Mr. Harrison added. “US CBP at Dublin Airport clears up to 20 flights per day to ten destinations in the United States. The only queue precleared passengers meet on arrival in the US is the taxi queue to their final destination,” he noted.

US CBP Dublin Port Director, Tish Lagerwey said “This is an exciting milestone for Customs and Border Protection, Dublin Airport and the Irish Government. This was reached as a result of hard work and the successful partnership between all parties and we are looking forward to continued growth of Dublin Preclearance.”

The number of passengers using US CBP in 2016 is set to rise again with the recent announcement by Aer Lingus of additional transatlantic services.

Dublin Airport, which has flights to about 170 scheduled and charter destinations in 38 countries on four continents, is now being increasingly used as a hub. “An increasing number of overseas passengers want to connect at Dublin Airport where we offer a smooth transfer process, excellent connections to Britain, Europe and North America, and the ability to preclear US customs and immigration at Dublin prior to departure on flights to the US,” according to Dublin Airport Head of Transfer Product, Ronan Fitzsimons.

Dublin Airport's 1 Million transfer passenger

Anne-Marie Crowley was Dublin Airport’s one millionth connecting passenger this year with her daughter Helen, Dublin Airport Head of Transfer Product, Ronan Fitzsimons and Aer Lingus Customer Service Agent, Edel Staunton

He was commenting as the airport welcomed Anne Marie Crowley, Dublin Airport’s one millionth connecting passenger. This is the first time in a single year that over a million people have used Dublin Airport as a hub to connect onwards to another destination. Ms Crowley was travelling with her daughter Helen on board an Aer Lingus flight from Liverpool, connecting on to New York, on 18th December.

“We have been working very closely with Aer Lingus to market and promote flying from Britain to North America via Dublin Airport,” said Mr. Fitzsimons. “This marketing drive has resulted in a 25% increase in the number of passengers connecting through Dublin Airport this year” he added.

Aer Lingus Director of Operations, Davina Pratt said “We’re delighted to welcome the one millionth connecting customer at Dublin airport. The growth in connecting customers underpins Aer Lingus’ successful strategy of expanding its Dublin Airport base into a major European transatlantic gateway. We offer connecting services from 16 UK airports and over thirty Continental European airports to our transatlantic network at Dublin Airport”.

She added “Next year we will operate ten routes from Dublin to North America with the introduction of three new services to Los Angeles, Newark and Hartford, Connecticut. Aer Lingus’ total long haul seat capacity will grow by more than 17% in 2016, representing the fourth consecutive year of more than double-digit long haul growth”.

Aer Lingus have received very positive feedback from customers, who value the ease of connections, to over 100 destinations across the U.S, with Aer Lingus and their partner airlines.

To make the transfer experience even easier, Dublin Airport offers passengers free unlimited wifi and a free DUB HUB mobile service powered by Google, to guide you seamlessly to your boarding gate. To avail of the service, simply enter your flight number on the DUB HUB homepage and follow the step-by-step virtual directions. The service also provides passengers with the very latest information on their flight.

“An increasing number of overseas passengers want to connect at Dublin Airport where we offer a smooth transfer process, excellent connections to Britain, Europe and North America, and the ability to preclear US customs and immigration at Dublin prior to departure on flights to the US,” according to Mr Fitzsimons. “We will continue to work closely with Aer Lingus and other airlines to showcase how easy and convenient it is to connect through Dublin Airport to more of our customers,” he concluded

Further refinements to the summer 2016 schedule

As part of further refinements to the 2016 Dublin summer schedules, Transavia France have confirmed that it will increase its services to Paris-Orly from daily, to twice daily, next summer. The airline commenced services on the route in summer 2015, using Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Flights departed Orly at 18:20 arriving in Dublin at 19:10 except on Saturdays, when flights departed Orly at 06:30 arriving in Dublin at 07:20. The return flight departed Dublin at 19:55 arriving in Orly at 22:45, except on Saturdays, when flights departed Dublin at 8:55 arriving in Orly at 10:55. While the service is being continued through the winter, it now operates at a twice weekly frequency with flights on Fridays and Sundays. The TO3860/1 arrives in Dublin at 19:20 and returns to Orly at 20:05.

The summer 2016 revised schedule is effective from 14th April. This will see departures from Orly at 06:20 and 18:20 with arrivals in Dublin at 07:40 and 19:10, Monday to Friday. The return flights leave Dublin at 07.55 and 19.55. On Saturday, a morning service operates, as per the weekday service while the Sunday service operates at the evening timings.

Dublin airport will get more new route announcements before March, with Travel Extra predicting two long haul airlines likely to announce services to the Middle East and Asia in 2017. Not much more by way of hard information is available but there has been ongoing speculation that Dublin was high on Air China’s proposed new routes for summer 2015. Apparently the airline seriously looked at the feasibility of such a service at the end of 2014 with up to four Airbus A330-200 services per week. With the airline due to take delivery of Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliners’ shortly, this could make the route viable. However, China Eastern has also been mentioned and while they don’t fly to Europe from Peking, they have a strong presence at Shanghai, another likely destination. A service to Hong Kong with Cathay cannot be ruled out either although suggestions of a service to India, often mentioned appears less likely. In relation to the Middle East, Qatar seems the most likely as there has rumours of a Doha service for some time.

Further improvements works at Dublin Airport

Dublin Airport Access road upgraded

Dublin Airport Access road upgraded

The essential repairs to the Departures Road at Terminal 1 (T1), which commenced on 28th September, were completed on schedule, and the road was reopened on 16th December. The repairs included structural repairs to walls and concrete columns, the upgrading and replacing of existing movement joints and the installation of a new drainage system and outlets. The existing footpaths, road surface and line markings were also replaced.

Following various works on runway 10/28, during September and November, the runway was again out of action briefly in mid-December following an incident when it was reported that there was debris on the runway, which could have been either tarmac or concrete, from the runway itself. An airport spokesperson confirmed that an investigation team had been dispatched to assess the extent of the damage and the runway was out of action the a few hours while it was repaired. A runway overlay was completed in 2010/11 and a full structural bituminous overlay, nominally 200 mm thick, with a new wearing surface at a reported cost of €22 million, is planned.

The first phase of a major apron pavement rehabilitation programme got underway in mid-October 2015 and has now been completed. The apron on the west side of T2 is also being strengthened and a double deck airbridge is going ahead to facilitate Airbus A380 operations.

A further range of improvements for passengers at Dublin Airport are being submitted for planning permission. According to a report in the Irish Examiner, the daa had outlined proposals to An Bord Pleanála, for a range of further improvements at Dublin Airport, in October. They were notified that they were to proceed through Fingal County Council’s normal planning procedures. Accordingly, on 17th December, an application was lodged for additional gates and material alterations to Pier 1, previously known as Pier D (ref 15/4231/7D). A second application, ref 15/4232/7D, for material alterations to Pier 3 (previously known as Pier B), was made on the same day. There was also an earlier application on 4th December (ref 15/4219/7D), to redevelop the Mezzanine Floor in Terminal 1, to provide a remote screening room for members of the security team. Terminal 1 Mezzanine Level is made up of six evacuation zones and this redevelopment will affect two evacuation zones. A reconfiguration and fit-out of the existing Mezzanine Restaurant area and departure level access stair to the Mezzanine Restaurant is also proposed (ref DAC/162/15).

It is also proposed to redevelop the Arrivals area on ground floor in Terminal 1, including the provision of Food and Beverage Units, public seating areas and additional commercial space. It is also proposed to carry out “material alterations” there. In addition, it is planned to move the support facilities at mezzanine level of Terminal 2, to facilitate the provision of two exit points for passengers being bussed to and from aircraft standing a distance from the piers. Also proposed are segregation facilities, to end the current practice of arriving and departing passengers, being in the same areas, and a new transfer facility is planned in the departures level of Terminal 2, aimed at reducing queuing and congestion. Reconfiguration and extension of existing security screening area to provide for improved passenger experience is also proposed. Finally, a 1,000sq m extension to Pier 1 is planned which would enable the accessing of all aircraft parking stands associated with the pier by foot from the terminal.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe supports second parallel runway

In a recent interview with the Irish Examiner, the Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Paschal Donohoe has given his strong backing for a new runway at Dublin Airport. He said that if traffic numbers at Dublin Airport in 2015 were to continue, then there would be a need for a second parallel runway, to the current main runway 10/28. The airport would have to make an analysis of what 2016 will look like to see if that rate of growth is sustainable. “If it is sustainable, they will develop a proposal that will go to Government” he added. While he would back the development of a third runway at Dublin he would want to “see are the growth figures sustainable.”

The daa already has planning permission for a second runway and the estimated cost of building this third runway is in the order of €250 million. This planning permission is valid for another two years, but there are reports that a longer runway of around 3,600 meters is being considered, which would involve a further planning application. This could reopen the whole debate with local residents and could lead to legal objections and significant delays.

‘Dublin Airport 1940-2015’

No look at Dublin Airport as it marked its 75th Anniversary would be complete without a mention of a new publication ‘Dublin Airport 1940-2015’ published by our colleagues at Irish Air Letter. Like ourselves, this is an all-volunteer production team, who have put together an excellent history of the airport detailing its operation over the past 75 years with an emphasis on the evolution of the airport and its facilities and on the airlines that served the airport over the years. The format is A4, comb bound and laser printed and containing over 100 pages. Illustrated with over 90 colour photographs and over 30 in black and white, it is truly impressive production. Remarkably, it is priced at just €20 plus €3 postage and packing. For UK orders, the price is £19 including postage. For orders from outside Ireland and the UK, the postage and packing is €4. To obtain a copy send you request to Irish Air Letter at 20 Kempton Way, Dublin D07 P9H2, Ireland. Cheques and postal orders should be crossed and made payable to Irish Air Letter.

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About the Author

Jim has had a life-long interest in military matters and aviation. Initially, he fused both of these interests together with a passion for military aviation, initially as a photographer. He has travelled extensively over the years and has been the guest of many European air forces, plus the air forces of the United States, Russia and others throughout the world. His first introduction to journalism coincided with an interest in the civil aviation industry was when he initially wrote for and later edited, ‘Aviation Ireland’, the club magazine of the Aviation Society of Ireland. Jim was a contributor to Flying in Ireland since its inception over 10 years ago and is now a key contributor to this site. He has also contributed items for a number of other aviation magazines and has produced a number of detailed contributions to Government policy documents, most recently the Irish Government’s White Paper on Defence. He is also deeply involved in the local community and voluntary sector and has worked both in local government and central government.

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