Dublin Airport set to invest £44m in upgrading runway
Northern Ireland's airports could be set for yet more competition from the Republic as Dublin Airport is to spend an estimated €60m (£44m) upgrading its existing runway and improving a number of other infrastructure elements.
The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has just invited companies to tender for the work, with the runway improvements expected to be completed within two years. That element of the project will commence next year.
The current main runway - called 10/28 - handles about 95% of the existing air movements at Dublin, which now amount to over 200,000 planes a year.
Last year, Dublin handled 21.7m passengers.
A record 864,000 people from Northern Ireland flew in and out of Dublin last year.
That was up 52% on the previous year.
"Recent studies have determined that the runway does not have sufficient structural strength for the projected aircraft movements over the next 15 to 20 years and a rehabilitation of the pavement is required," the DAA has told prospective contractors.
It said: "The condition of a number of other very critical assets in the vicinity of runway 10/28 has also been assessed over the last number of years.
"Through these assessments, it has been determined that the assets must be rehabilitated within the next two to three years in order to sustain airport operations and reduce the risk of a system failure."
The existing main runway was built in 1989 and in 2010 was overlaid with a substance to allow for improved friction for aircraft. That scheme, which cost about €7m (£5m), had a design life of between six and eight years.
The works the DAA has sought tenders for also include the upgrade of lighting on the runway, taxiway upgrades, additional infrastructure for bigger aircraft such as the A380 and new signage.
Work on the runway will take place at night and all elements of the wider upgrade will be undertaken as one umbrella project.