Published on May 1st, 2019 | by Mark Dwyer


daa Delivers Record Profits As Passenger Numbers Increase

Profits at daa Group increased by 6% to a record €133 million last year as the company. The Group, which has operations in 13 countries, benefitted from higher passenger numbers and increased commercial income. Total passenger numbers for Dublin and Cork airports increased by 6% to a record 33.9 million last year. Dublin Airport had its eighth consecutive year of passenger growth, while Cork Airport saw its third successive year of increased traffic.

Domestic turnover grew faster than the overseas business, which comprises ARI’s global travel retail operation, investments in airports in Cyprus and Germany and daa’s overseas airport management and advisory subsidiary.

“daa had a good year in 2018, with our key financial and passenger metrics improving,” said Chief Executive Dalton Philips. “Dublin Airport welcomed a record number of passengers, Cork’s traffic further improved, and we made significant progress on our plans to deliver North Runway and the other vital infrastructure that is required at Dublin Airport. The Group also continued to expand connectivity at the State’s two largest airports, which is essential to allow the Irish economy to grow in a post-Brexit world.”

Turnover increased by 5% to €897 million, with good growth in commercial activities, aeronautical income, and increased sales at the Group’s international businesses. Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 7% to €289 million for the year. Operating costs increased by 4% to €426 million, as daa recruited almost 190 additional staff at its Irish airports and its overseas businesses. Net debt was further reduced during the year, declining by 18% (€100 million) to €441 million. daa is to pay a dividend of €40 million to the State for 2018, which brings its total dividend payments to €125 million over the past four years.

Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport increased by 6% to a record 31.5 million last year, as the airport facilitated an additional 1.9 million passengers. Dublin Airport welcomed 16 new services and six new airlines in 2018 and there was additional capacity on 22 existing services.

Connecting passenger numbers increased by 18% to 2.1 million, as Dublin Airport continued to expand its role as a major gateway between Europe and North America. Some 29.4 million passengers started or ended their journey at Dublin last year.

Passenger numbers at Cork Airport increased by almost 4% to 2.4 million last year. Cork, which is the State’s second largest-airport, has increased its passenger traffic by 16% over the past three years. Three new routes were introduced at Cork last year, and there were capacity expansions on 14 existing services. Both airports have a strong pipeline of new and expanded services for this year and have made a positive start to 2019. Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport have increased by 7% so far this year while Cork’s passenger numbers are up by 11%.

Mr Philips said the Group remained cautious, as there were potential challenges ahead. These include resolving runway planning conditions and delivering the new facilities needed to meet increasing demand, which would enable Dublin Airport to grow its capacity to 40 million passengers per year. In this context, it is essential that the Commission for Aviation Regulation, which sets airport charges at Dublin Airport, enables the investment programme that is urgently required. “Our airline customers and our passengers want us to invest in new facilities at Dublin and they are required by the Irish economy,” Mr Philips said. There are also downside risks in the global aviation sector, he added.

While construction of North Runway continues, daa will continue to seek the amendment of two onerous conditions that will apply once the new runway is built. The conditions mean Dublin Airport would have significantly fewer flights between 11pm and 7am with two main runways than it currently has with one.

Up to three million existing passenger journeys would be lost as soon as the conditions are applied, Mr Philips said. “Dublin Airport’s capacity would be almost halved during its busiest time of the day, which is between 6am and 7am. It has never been our intention to have lots more flights in the middle of the night, but these conditions would decimate the airport’s busiest times of the day and have a hugely negative affect on the entire Irish economy for decades to come.”

The appointment of Fingal County Council as the new independent noise regulator for Dublin Airport is currently going through the Oireachtas and the new regulator will ultimately decide on the issue. “There is a balance to be struck between Ireland’s national economic needs, particularly in the context a more uncertain world post-Brexit and mitigating the impact of the runway development on local communities,” Mr Philips added.

The international arm of daa’s travel retail business ARI made after tax profits of €13 million during the year. ARI operates stores in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, and also holds daa’s 20% stake in Düsseldorf Airport and the Group’s 11% stake in Hermes Airports in Cyprus. Profits at ARI declined due to higher concession fees after recent contract renewals and the impact of a restructuring programme at its Cypriot airports. ARI signed agreements to enter new markets in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia in 2018 and will operate stores at Abu Dhabi’s new Midfield Terminal when it opens in late 2019.

Passenger numbers at Düsseldorf Airport declined by 1% to 24.3 million last year due mainly to the fallout of the 2017 collapse of Air Berlin but have returned to growth this year. Traffic at Hermes Airports, which operates Larnaca and Paphos airports, increased by 7% to 10.9 million.

Terminal 5 (T5) at King Khalid International in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which is operated by daa International had a year of strong passenger growth. Traffic increased by 13% to 14.7 million in T5, which handles domestic flights. daa International also recently signed an agreement to advise on the operation and development of two regional airports in the Philippines.

CSO Figures for 2018

CSO Aviation Statistics for 2018 show Quarter 4 growth at the major Irish airports was 6.9%, higher than the overall 6.1% for the year.  Kerry showed the highest growth for the year at 8.9% but it still has the lowest passenger headcount at 365,000. Ireland West Airport Knock handled 775, 000, while Shannon managed 1.68m, Cork 2.39m and Dublin 31.32m for a total of 36.53m.

Since 2014, total growth is 38% made up by Dublin 44%, Cork 12%, Shannon 8%, Knock 10%, and Kerry 24%. Passenger numbers decreased in Connemara and Inishmore airports, when compared with 2017. The five main airports accounted for 99.8% of all air passenger numbers, while Dublin airport accounted for 85.6% of all air passengers carried in 2018.

The full daa Annual Report is available to download HERE.

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About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

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