The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) has said it is likely that at least one interim review of the new five year plan for passenger charges for Dublin airport will be needed, because of the situation around the Covid-19 pandemic.
The regulator said the crisis is having a devastating impact on the global aviation industry, with passenger numbers at Dublin Airport currently down 99% and the timing and pace of recovery very uncertain.
The CAR acknowledged that many of the assumptions underpinning the decision it issued last year on future charges at Dublin airport are no longer valid.
As a result, it said it will revisit the assumptions in the coming months by reviewing that decision to take account of the impact of Covid-19.
The Commission said its current view is that at least one interim review of the charging plan will be needed.
It added that that the maximum price caps for charges at the airport that it set for the later years of the five year plan are not now likely to apply in their current form.
It said it plans to consult with stakeholders on the appropriate price regulation response to Covid-19 throughout the course of the remainder of this year.
Last year the CAR set out a controversial plan to reduce the maximum cap on passenger charges at the airport over the next five years.
But this was appealed by the Dublin airport operator, daa, as well as Ryanair.
The regulator said today that the appeals panel which considered those objections had rejected most of the arguments but had accepted two.
The appeals focused on many aspects of the decision, including issues around operating costs, passenger forecasts, the financing situation and the quality of service.
In a statement, the CAR said the panel had concluded that the CAR did not err and gave proper consideration to the material it was presented with.
It also said that the panel decided that the regulator had full regard to is statutory requirements.
However, two issues were sent back by the appeals panel to the CAR for further consideration.
These include an issue around the cost pass through mechanism for some categories of operating costs.
The second issue, raised by Ryanair, focused on the length of time that Dublin Airport should be given to achieve operating efficiencies.
In its ruling the panel said its wasn't convinced four years were needed to achieve the targets set out for Dublin Airport.
The CAR has now published a consultation paper proposing changes to its original determination to take account of the issue raised by the daa.
It is also publishing findings from a more detailed analysis of how achievable the proposed operating cost targets are by 2022 and proposing some small reductions to the price cap in 2022 and 2023.
Responses to the consultation paper are due by June 15 with a decision due by July 4.
The CAR said the panel had decided it would not be appropriate for it to take into account the impact of Covid-19, as the aviation crisis brought on by the pandemic had happened after the determination was issued by the CAR last year.
This decision was taken following consultation with participants in the process, the CAR said.