Dublin Airport to begin work on new £260m runway
Dublin Airport is set to start work on a long-awaited second runway in a move that could further boost passenger numbers from Northern Ireland.
The airport said the €320m (£260m) project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2020, would enable it to introduce routes to destinations including Asia and Africa, as well as South America.
Earlier plans to build a second runway were abandoned during the economic downturn.
The new one could mean that passengers from Northern Ireland who would usually fly from Belfast to London to catch connecting flights to such destinations will instead be able to fly direct from Dublin.
Dublin Airport said the decision to proceed with the runway came after a surge in passengers in recent years.
While recent numbers for people from Northern Ireland using the airport in 2015 are not yet available, there was a 52% jump in people from the province using Dublin in 2014, to 864,000.
A spokeswoman for the airport said 2015 would also show an increase from Northern Ireland but could not yet say the extent of the growth.
The business welcomed 25 million passengers in total in 2015, up 13.2%.
Dublin Airport Authority chief executive Kevin Toland said: "Driven by demand from airlines and passengers, Dublin Airport's current runway infrastructure is at capacity during the peak hours and this must be addressed to enable future growth.
"The north runway will significantly improve Ireland's connectivity, which plays a critical role in growing passenger numbers and sustaining the future economic development of Ireland."
The Institution of Civil Engineers in Northern Ireland said there could be opportunities for companies from here.
Regional director Richard Kirk added that he felt the runway would herald many other opportunities. "Northern Ireland has benefited from improved cross-border infrastructure in recent years and the expansion of Dublin airport will provide us with options and access to international destinations for work and leisure," he said.
"There will undoubtedly be great opportunities for civil engineers to contribute their expertise to this exciting project to help build the quality of life of everyone on the island of Ireland."
A spokeswoman for the airport said: "Contracts for the runway will be done through a competitive tender process and will be advertised through the Official Journal of the European Union, so everyone is welcome to tender for the business including Northern Ireland contractors."
Northern Ireland companies with a track record in airport infrastructure include the Lagan Construction Group.