Row erupts between Ryanair and DAA after airline slashes winter schedule at Dublin Airport

DAA boss labels claims over a 45 per cent hike in charges as "patently false" and accuses Ryanair of " back of a scratch card mathematics"

Ryanair has cancelled 17 winter services at Dublin Airport and moved 19 aircraft to alternative EU airports. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA
Ryanair has cancelled 17 winter services at Dublin Airport and moved 19 aircraft to alternative EU airports. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA

DAA has accused Ryanair of "false claims" after the airline announced it will cut its winter 2023/2024 schedule at Dublin Airport due to increased passenger charges.

The airport operator was responding to the budget carrier's move to cancel 17 routes and move 19 aircraft to alternative EU airports.

It comes just two weeks after the budget carrier scrapped a new winter service from Belfast International Airport to Warsaw Modlin over a row with the operators of the Polish airport.

In a statement on Thursday morning, Ryanair said it made the decision due to Dublin Airport operator DAA's "rising passenger charges of 45 per cent, ongoing Capex mismanagement and their failure to deliver a meaningful environmental incentive scheme that rewards lower emission aircraft".

It said: "DAA has a history of mismanagement at Dublin Airport, including understaffing summer security, wasting taxpayers' money on ill-thought-out infrastructure projects and failing to support low-cost access and sustainable growth."

In response, DAA said it “categorically denied false claims by Ryanair that airport charges at Dublin Airport will increase by 45 per cent next year”.

Ryanair said the 19 aircraft it will move are part of its "gamechanger enviro-friendly" fleet of Boeing 737 8200 aircraft, which it said reduce noise by 40 per cent and CO2 emissions by 16 per cent while carrying 4 per cent more passengers per flight.

The company said DAA is increasing its "already excessive charges by a ludicrous 45 per cent".

Read more:

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  • Ryanair confirm return to Belfast International Airport in 2023

Ryanair was critical of DAA's €3 billion euro capital expenditure programme, saying it includes a "portfolio of unnecessary vanity projects" which the airline said would not benefit passengers.

It said: "A prime example of this is DAA's €250 million cargo tunnel. This tunnel is superfluous and could easily be replaced with a tried and tested low-cost alternative like the crossing system at Cologne Airport - home of Europe's Aviation Safety Agency."

Ryanair said DAA should be planning to expand Dublin Airport's terminals one and two for passenger and connectivity growth.

Ryanair chief executive Eddie Wilson said: "It is regrettable that Ryanair is announcing 17 route cuts and the removal of 19 'Gamechanger' enviro-friendly aircraft this winter at Dublin because there are no incentives at Dublin to grow traffic or reward investment in aircraft with lower C02 and noise emissions.

"Unlike most other EU airports, DAA is unfortunately focused on increasing passenger charges by 45 per cent and wasting 250 million euro on a tunnel the same size as the Dublin Port tunnel that is not needed.

"DAA needs to build low-cost infrastructure to support passenger growth and connectivity but has failed to implement a growth incentive scheme or, indeed, lower charges that reward those airlines who invest in lower emission aircraft.

"The Irish Government implemented an innovative industry-leading traffic recovery support scheme post-Covid, with Ryanair responding with +117 per cent recovery vs pre-Covid levels, ensuring Ireland's recovery of connectivity and tourism.

"Unfortunately, all this good work is now going to unravel with DAA's misguided policy of increasing charges by 45 per cent. Dublin Airport isn't Heathrow; Dublin competes for traffic with other European airports, and with less airline seat capacity returning post-Covid, airports must respond with incentives to attract that smaller pool of aircraft seat capacity."

In a strongly worded response, the chief executive of DAA, Kenny Jacobs labeled some of Ryanair's claims as "false".

He said: “As Ryanair knows well, the aeronautical charges at Dublin Airport are regulated by the IAA who set the maximum level of charges at Dublin Airport.

“There is nothing approaching a 45 per cent proposed in pricing at Dublin Airport which is patently false for anyone who has studied the regulators’ determination last December.

“Rather than depending on back of a scratch card mathematics, I would urge those making such false statements, to redo their sums and more importantly study the range of sustainability incentives proposed at Dublin Airport and join us on the journey to a carbon free aviation eco-system over the coming years.”

The DAA boss also hit back over Ryanair’s claims around a lack of incentives for airlines.

“A traffic recovery scheme is in place at Dublin Airport that has worked incredibly well and has facilitated the speedy 100 per cent bounce back in activity at Dublin Airport post-Covid,” he said.

“This scheme will remain in place for another six months, including the winter period that Ryanair is focused on.

As the biggest beneficiary of the TRSS scheme, we can understand why Ryanair would like to see it remain in place beyond next March, but we are happy that Dublin Airport’s growth has recovered to pre-pandemic levels and we do not need to incentivise new growth given Dublin Airport has a planning capacity limit of 32 million passengers per annum.”