Daa challenges cap on semi-state CEO pay

The Dublin and Cork airports operator is looking for a new chief exec as it reports a record-breaking year...

The chairman of the daa has called for more flexibility when it comes to the pay packet he can offer to lure the next chief executive of the firm which controls Dublin and Cork airports.

Speaking as the daa reported on a record-breaking 2016, Padraig O'Riordain signalled he may ask the Government to breach the cap that means no CEO of a semi-state body can be paid an annual salary of more than €250,00.

That ceiling was introduced by then-Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin in 2011, "in light of the ongoing severe economic conditions facing the country."


It was announced last week that current daa chief executive Kevin Toland would be moving to Cuisine de France-owner Aryzta in the coming months.

While he received that basic salary in 2016, he also received pension and other taxable benefits totalling €149,000.

O'Riordain argued that his hunt for a successor to Toland will be restricted by the ceiling:

"Clearly, the cap on pay is way below market...

"I do think we need to get pay for chief executives up to a level that is in some way reasonable. It's something that really does have to change."

The daa reported on Tuesday that turnover rose 17% last year to a record €793m. Profits after tax also climbed 75% to a record €108m.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation increased by 20% to €247 million for the year. Operating costs increased by 14% to €381 million due to the impact of new businesses overseas and additional staff hired to cope with growing passenger numbers.

Overall passenger numbers at Dublin and Cork airports increased by 11% to a record 30.1 million in 2016.


Dublin Airport handled 27.9 million passengers last year, an increase of 7.7 million on 2015.

Passenger growth has helped create almost 20,000 new jobs in the Irish economy over the past four years, according to a new study by economic consultants InterVISTAS.

The number of jobs supported or facilitated by Dublin Airport increased from 97,400 in 2013 to 117,300 in 2016.

Dublin Airport’s annual value to the Irish economy increased from €6.9bn per year to €8.3bn per year, as passenger numbers grew by 38% over the past four years.


Moving south, Cork Airport supports roughly 11,000 jobs and €727m worth of economic activity. Cork’s economic role is also boosted by the fact that it has the highest connectivity of any airport in the Republic of Ireland outside of Dublin.

Cork Airport saw passenger numbers increasing by 8% to 2.2 million due to six new routes and increased capacity to sun destinations and a number of provincial British cities.

 daa welcomed more passengers at its two Irish airports last year than it did during any year when it operated three airports in Ireland.

Passenger numbers at Dublin increased by 11% to a record 27.9 million in 2016 helped by 19 new routes and additional capacity on 31 existing services. Dublin was the fastest-growing major airport in Europe last year, as its traffic grew at more than twice the European average.