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Parallel Runway

Unlike airlines that typically plan for the short to medium term, airports must plan for the longer term.   Investment in airport infrastructure requires long term planning that focusses on potential future demand for aviation services. With this in mind the daa also has a number of statutory obligations set out under the Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Act, 1998; State Airports Act 2004) that can be summarised as follows:

• To manage, operate and develop the airports
• To provide the services and facilities necessary for the operation, maintenance and development of the airports
• To take all proper measures for the safe and secure operation of the airports
• To operate in a commercial manner

From 2005-2010 DAA experienced significant increases in passenger traffic. As part of the DAA statutory obligations to develop Dublin Airport, DAA delivered airport infrastructure that would facilitate growth and dramatically improve the travel experience for airport users such as Terminal 2 and associated infrastructure which opened in November 2010.

As a result of great planning back in the early 1970s official’s safeguarded land around the airport for the provision of additional runway capacity when it was required.This foresight in securing land away from relatively populated areas is to be commended and is rarely seen at international airports. 

In 2007 DAA received planning permission for the construction of a second parallel runway at Dublin Airport. However, towards the end of 2010 there was a dramatic downturn in Irish and global economies that had a significant negative impact on air travel. Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport dropped from a high of 23.5m in 2008 to 19m in 2012.

Despite the current downturn, it is important to remember that aviation is a cyclical industry with a long lead-in time for investment. The ability of an airport to grow and evolve as passenger numbers increase is greatly influenced by the capability of the airport authority to plan for the proper development of the airport in the very long term. This contrasts with the more short-term focus of the airlines that have the ability to move their aircraft in response to market conditions to any location.

The Government has highlighted the importance of export led growth to Ireland’s economic recovery. It is vital therefore that the country’s principal airport has a runway of sufficient length to enable services to operate to emerging markets. A new parallel runway would serve the markets that are anticipated and thus enable connections for both business exports and international tourists.

The current declared capacity of the runway system at Dublin Airport is 48 movements in the peak hour. Whilst DAA, in conjunction with the IAA, is seeking to optimise the number of movements in the peak hour as the airport is currently operating at near this capacity, it is appropriate to continue to plan for the provision of additional capacity through a parallel runway at a future point in time.

Despite the downturn in traffic, constraints in runway capacity persist at peak times. It is notable, for example, that while overall traffic has dropped by 23% in the period 2007 to 2012, peak hour departures from 0600 hours have dropped by only 4%.

With the downturn in the economy, the huge drop in passenger numbers has inevitably pushed out the timeline for another runway. In the meantime, maximising the capacity of existing assets is a core daa objective, and a key element is increasing the operational capacity of the existing runway system.  As a result daa is working very closely with the IAA (Irish Aviation Authority), the organisation that provides air traffic control services in Ireland, to extract as much operational capacity out of the current runway system as possible.

The timing of any decision to construct a parallel runway at Dublin Airport will be based on a number of elements.  These will include demand, particularly for the first wave, routes to be served (runway length required), and the optimisation of existing runway infrastructure.

During the early 2000s, DAA engaged in a process of outward looking master planning. This exercise provided clarity and direction to all airport stakeholders as to how best the Airport might grow and develop. These studies proved to be very valuable during almost a decade of double digit growth at the Airport. As a result, Dublin Airport was well positioned for the delivery of apron and terminal development during the period of the economic boom.

In line with best practice, and to reflect changing requirements in the aviation industry, DAA is now embarking on an update of its airfield masterplan. The purpose of the updated airfield masterplan is to consider how current and future development requirements may best be accommodated in the context of a continued single runway operation in the immediate future, and to reflect advances in the aviation industry in general. The ultimate masterplan outlook for the Airport will continue to be for a parallel runway operation.

Proposed Parallel Runway


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Northern Ireland January