Belfast Telegraph

Dublin Airport invites bids to build £270m runway as passenger numbers grow

By John Mulligan

The DAA expects to name the successful bidder for the core work of its €320m (£270m) Dublin Airport runway project next spring, after launching a formal tender process yesterday.

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has initiated the first stage of the tender process, seeking interest from companies or consortia interested in constructing the new 3.1km runway.

The DAA then expects to narrow those expressions of interest to at least four applicants that will be invited to the second stage of the tender process.

It announced earlier this year that it intended to proceed with the construction of a new runway as passenger numbers at Dublin Airport continue to soar. The airport handled 25 million passengers last year and is on track to cater for more than 27 million this year. It's one of the fastest-growing airports in Europe.

The work currently being put out to tender by the DAA includes the construction of the new runway itself, as well as associated taxiways, exits, aircraft aprons and stands, the demolition of an old, unused runway and reconstruction of the existing cross-runway.

The DAA has told prospective bidders that the old, decommissioned runway is currently being used for aircraft parking and must be demolished. But before the entire length of the new runway and some taxiways can be completed, a new alternative aircraft parking area must be constructed and commissioned, and must be ready by the first quarter of 2018.

The DAA is also about to embark on a €60m project to overlay the existing main runway at Dublin Airport. That work is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2018, and will overlap construction of the new runway for a period of between nine months and a year. The Irish Aviation Authority is also planning to build a new €50m control tower at Dublin Airport.

The DAA has to have two conditions attached to the new runway amended. One of the existing conditions is that the runway would not be operational between 11pm and 7am. That would prevent it being used for one of the busiest times of the day, as early morning flights take off for Europe, and many flights from north America begin to arrive in Dublin.

A second condition means the total number of night time flights at Dublin Airport cannot exceed 65 between 11pm and 7am once the new runway is built. But the airport already handles about 90 take-offs and landings between those hours. DAA chief executive Kevin Toland has told local community groups the airport wants to secure unconditional night time use of both runways. Local groups from surrounding areas, including the Portmarnock Community Association, have told DAA this would be unacceptable.

New EU rules that have reassessed permissible noise levels at EU airports, could mean that the contentious runway planning conditions could be lifted.

However, it seems likely at this stage that the DAA will still have to seek an amendment to the conditions from An Bord Pleanala.

Dublin Airport added two new airlines to its portfolio this year. They are Aegean Airlines, which launched a new service to Athens, and Cobalt, which flies into the Cypriot capital of Larnaca.

It will also see the return of Dutch airline KLM, which will begin a new service to Amsterdam.

It currently flies that route from Belfast City Airport.

Aer Lingus will also add two US long-haul connections to Newark and Hartford in Connecticut later this year.

Belfast Telegraph