Wednesday 24 October 2007

Airport's €120m Pier D ready for take off

RELIEF could finally be on hand for some of the long-suffering travelling public using Dublin Airport, as the €120m Pier D opens.

The airport is spending some €250m this year on upgrading the airport which has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

This Sunday the public will finally begin to see some return for that outlay.

It is estimated that five million people a year will avail of the new facility.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) hopes the opening will improve the airport's image which has taken a battering over its crowded hallways.

Dublin Airport boss Robert Hilliard agrees there was room for improvement: "The best I think we can say at the moment is that it works."

Pier D, the DAA hopes, will start redressing the balance, as part of the overall €2bn 10-year plan for a complete modernisation.

Just four flights will go through the pier on its first day, before it "starts proper" on Tuesday.

"We want to make sure that any tweaks that are there will be worked through," says Mr Hilliard.

Pier D can ultimately handle 12 flights at a time, but the facility will offer only six gates until next April. That's because the DAA needs to dismantle existing infrastructure on one side of the pier before that side can take planes, Hilliard says.

"What we're trying to do is cause as little disruption as possible," he adds.

Pier D will be used almost exclusively by short-haul planes, with Ryanair and Aer Lingus likely to be the most frequent users.

For the short-haul passengers who do make it to the new pier, the DAA promises spacious surrounds, complete with a Soho Coffee Co coffee shop, a Thomas Read's bar and a Hughes & Hughes bookshop. For the plane-gazers, there are near panoramic views of the airfield. It is a bit of a hike away -- some 350m -- but this will be traversed using new travelators through a corridor dubbed the "Skybridge".

Looking at Pier D this week, it's a mite difficult to see much of the vision the DAA waxes so lyrically about. The magnificent views are there for all to behold and the spaciousness of the place can't be denied, but beyond that, Pier D is quite literally a hard-hat building site.

The DAA, however, is completely confident of the Pier's opening next week "on time and on budget".

Laura Noonan
Irish Independent

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