DUBLIN AIRPORT is to get busier after An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the main passenger terminal to be expanded.
The €55 million, two-storey 7,500sq m extension, which was opposed by Ryanair, will provide additional arrivals and departures facilities, extra check-in desks and new bars, restaurants and shops.
All the facilities will be raised on concrete columns so that ground handlers will be able to continue operating beneath the building without loss of working space. Construction work is to begin next month, with the first new facilities due to be open to passengers early next year and the full extension scheduled to be completed by summer 2009.
Between the extension and the new second terminal that is under construction, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said it was planning to be able to cater for a growth in passenger numbers up to 35 million annually.
More than 21 million passengers used the airport last year and there are complaints of overcrowding and delays at peak times.
DAA chief executive Declan Collier said: “This extension will radically improve the travel experience for the bulk of our short-haul passengers.”
Among the conditions imposed by An Bord Pleanála is that no more than 32 million passengers pass through the new facilities when completed and that the DAA make a financial contribution to the cost of the Metro underground rail scheme planned to connect the airport with Dublin city centre.
The amount of the contribution has been left with the DAA and Railway Procurement Agency to agree between themselves but in the event they fail to reach a figure, An Bord Pleanála will determine the sum.
The DAA said the extension will be funded from the renting of the additional retail units and will not require increased to airport charges, which are invariably passed on to passengers.
The extension received planning permission from Fingal County Council last April but was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by residents from the Portmarnock Community Association, environmentalist Angela Lawton and Ryanair.
Ryanair said that the extension consisted largely of retail outlets and would not provide sufficient extra check-in and handling facilities to alleviate the pressure on the existing terminal.
This is the second blow to Ryanair’s attempts to influence developments at Dublin Airport in recent days. It also failed to halt the construction of Terminal 2 after the High Court last Friday ruled in favour of the DAA’s claim that the airline’s challenge was unlawful. Building work on the €400m terminal is scheduled to be finished in 2010.
Fine Gael’s transport spokesman Fergus O’Dowd said it was time to start planning for further expansion.
“Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport consistently outstrip predicted demand and this extra space is vital to alleviate overcrowding. However, by the time Terminal 2 is open for business it will fill predicted capacity, so there is a need to start work on the necessary processes for Terminal 3,” he said.