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Irish Times - Congestion charges proposed for Dublin airport

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Congestion charges proposed for Dublin airport

Passengers using Dublin airport at peak times of the day may face a congestion charge under proposals being considered by the aviation regulator. Ciarán Hancock reports.

The idea is just one of a number of proposals that the Commission for Aviation Regulation is considering as part of a review of passenger charges at Dublin airport in the period up to 2009, when terminal two is due to open.

Airport charges are currently set at an average €6.34 per passenger. The Dublin Aviation Authority (DAA) is seeking an increase to €7.50 to help pay for the new terminal, which will handle 11.5 million passengers.

About 20 per cent of departing passengers leave Dublin between 6am and 9am, with the balance spread more evenly throughout the rest of the day.

Commissioner for Aviation Regulation Cathal Guiomard said a peak-time charge was under review. "It is something we are considering for this period and for the years ahead [ post 2009]," he said.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said the proposal was "insane". "Why are they talking about a congestion charge for something that is not congested?" he said. "The regulator is supposed to be protecting the interests of the consumer, not producing rubbish like this."

Ryanair is opposed to the DAA's plans for the second terminal, arguing that it is too costly and is being built in the wrong place. It is appealing the DAA's planning application for the facility.

Aer Lingus declined to comment. It is understood, however, that the airline would also oppose a congestion charge.

Ryanair has 15 aircraft based in Dublin while Aer Lingus has 29. Both airlines make extensive use of early-morning slots to maximise daily use of their aircraft.

Mr Guiomard will seek the views of all airlines using Dublin airport as part of his review. They will have until March 10th to make submissions, with a draft determination from Mr Guiomard scheduled for April.

Given that Ryanair and Aer Lingus account for about 70 per cent of traffic through Dublin, it seems unlikely that a congestion charge would be introduced.

The commission is also considering whether users of terminal one should be asked to contribute towards the cost of terminal two, either in advance of its opening in 2009 or after it has been built.

The issue of defraying the building costs over a longer period, possibly 50 or 100 years on the basis that the DAA would have a more valuable asset from 2009 onwards, is another issue up for review.

This review will play a key role in the DAA determining how it pays for the second terminal at the State's main airport.

Terminal two and other new facilities are expected to cost €757.2 million.

In a statement, the DAA said it did not currently charge "differential pricing" for services such as check-in, baggage handling, security and fire services.

It said airport charges represented "a small proportion of the airline ticket price" and were paid by passengers, not airlines.
© 2007 The Irish Times

Souce: The Irish Times - ireland.com
http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/finance/2007/0210/1170364138944.html
Accessed: 10/02/07
Stephen Murphy
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