Limerick Chamber CEO accuses DAA of ‘gaslighting’ in war of words

Dee Ryan

Limerick Chamber has firmly challenged the expansion of Dublin Airport facilities, stressing other regional airports facilities are under-utilised. Limerick Voice Reporter Oisín White spoke with Limerick Chamber CEO Dee Ryan on the DAA’s announcement.

The CEO of Limerick Chamber has accused the DAA of ‘gaslighting’ after the airport authority called the chamber ‘misguided’ for its comments about increasing capacity at Dublin Airport.

“The DAA, Ryanair and many of those who are calling for expansion of operations at Dublin Airport stand to benefit or profit from permission being granted,” said Dee Ryan. “It is in their interest to be dismissive of legitimate observations.

“I would also point out that claims by the DAA that ‘no one wants to go to regional airports’ is the equivalent to airport gaslighting. It is impossible to assess the true demand for connectivity to Ireland via airports outside of Dublin while the DAA continues to ignore and blast through the existing 32 million passenger cap given by Fingal Council.”

Last November the business group wrote to Fingal County Council outlining their concerns about a third terminal being built in Dublin Airport.

“Limerick Chamber strongly objected to the proposed expansion of Dublin Airports facilities when there is significant under-utilised capacity in other state-owned airports and Limerick Chamber has long been calling for national aviation policy to be updated as it is out of touch with the goals of Project Ireland 2040 and the Climate Action Plan,” Ms Ryan explained.

“I think if we are serious about sustainable tourism in the mid-west, we need to improve Shannon and have more direct routes into the airport rather than into Dublin as this region would be better served.”

The DAA had responded to the chamber’s letter by saying all airports should grow as the population grows and it will continue its investment in Cork Airport, which it is also responsible for.

“The Limerick Chamber is misguided in thinking that a cap on Dublin will mean capacity moves to other regional airports,” said the DAA statement. “There is nothing to stop any airline operating from regional airports at present.”

“Airlines make commercial decisions to operate out of any Irish airport based on proven demand for the flights. We would encourage the Chamber of Commerce to think nationally and support vital connectivity for businesses at all our airports.”

The letter from the chamber notes that over 80 percent of the flights into Ireland arrive in Dublin, comparing it to Switzerland, where only 55 percent of flights arrive in Zurich. The focus on Dublin Airport is, it continues, leaving regional airports under-utilised and business in those areas are losing out.

A 2019 report commissioned by the chamber and carried out by Copenhagen Economics found that a frequent business connection to Frankfurt Airport, involving two flights every weekday

and one flight per weekend day, would add the greatest potential contribution to the economy with additional GDP of €412 million.

The chamber went on to say that Shannon can take up to five million passengers annually with the facilities available but currently takes in just under two million passengers per annum.

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