Plans to expand capacity at Dublin Airport will create up to 20,000 new jobs, DAA chief Kenny Jacobs has told The Pat Kenny Show.
The airport operator is currently preparing a planning application for expansion to both terminals at the airport as part of a plan to increase its capacity to 40 million passengers per year.
As part of the plan, the airport will ask An Bord Pleanála to lift the passenger cap it included as part of the approval for the airport’s second terminal.
DAA has said it will come very close to the 32 million cap this year – and has warned airlines that they may not be able to increase services next year for fear of breaching the cap.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Mr Jacobs said the cap was put in place 16 years ago – “A time when aviation and Dublin Airport were at a totally different size”.
“We're looking to get the cap lifted through our new infrastructure application,” he said.
“I think all the airlines and anyone who is a supporter of the economy, connectivity and jobs creation is looking to do the same.
“I think you saw that the American Chamber this morning were calling for infrastructure to be sped up and airport capacity to be increased in Ireland, that's essentially what we're looking to do with the removal of the cap.”
The cap was put in place to ensure the airport would not have too big an impact on traffic in the capital – and little has been done to improve public transport in the years since.
Mr Jacobs said more people are using the bus to get to the airport and insisted traffic is not a problem at current levels.
He said the expansion will see the airport keep pace with Ireland’s growing population.
“We want to increase the capacity by 25% between now and 2030," he said.
“That really just matches the population increase that's expected in Dublin and in Ireland in the same time frame.
“Cork, I'll just mention by contrast because we want to grow Cork Airport by 40%.
“Some people say that it's all about Dublin. It's not just all about Dublin and this is really just about having the airport that Ireland needs - that Dublin needs - that's future-proofed for future growth in the population and we can do that in a sustainable way.”
He said a “major piece of research” commissioned by DAA found that the business connectivity linked to Dublin Airport is driving 2.3% of the Irish economy.
“I think while we have some grey clouds on the horizon economically, we should be looking to do everything we can to create new jobs,” he said.
“Expanding Dublin Airport will create up to 20,000 new jobs. It's already supporting over 100,000 jobs and I think we should continue that.”
Mr Jacobs said the passenger cap will not impact on Christmas travel this year – but it could prevent airlines from increasing flights for big events like next year’s Europa League final in Dublin.
“If that’s two big teams, let's say Liverpool versus Madrid, and charter companies are out there thinking, well, we'll put in 1000 flights to Dublin, we're saying you may not be able to do that because we're managing a two-way cap,” he said.
“So, we're just flagging it to them early so that they can manage their business as well.”
DAA hopes to lodge its planning application by the end of the year.