Dublin airport operator daa is seeking a substantial increase in passenger charges for the facility between now and 2026.
The company has told the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) that it requires a step-change in charging, because a 15% increase would only restore the charging position to the position it was in 2019, before the pandemic.
"With this regulatory decision, the Commission has a critical responsibility to enable the recovery of Ireland's gateway for the remainder of this decade," chief executive Dalton Philips said in a submission to the CAR ahead of a review of charges.
"The current levels of airport charges cannot sustain the tide of countervailing pressures."
"Stakeholders need to appreciate and acknowledge that the price path for the remainder of this decade is in a higher range than today."
The organisation is seeking to have the price cap per passenger increased to €12.85 next year, followed by further increases each year until 2026 when it would reach €14.58.
This year the charges stand at €8.11 per passenger, but in the absence of this review this would rise to €9.00 next year due to inflation.
Mr Philips said the airport’s revised capital investment requirements remain significant at €2.5 billion because the objective of delivering an annual capacity for 40 million passengers is still relevant and supported by customers.
"But time has been lost on delivering key infrastructure improvements and Dublin Airport’s funding capability has been severely compromised," he said.
He said Dublin Airport is now experiencing its third year of pandemic related commercial and financial damage, exacerbated by pre-pandemic price controls that are still in place and were designed for over 35 million passengers per annum.
"The pandemic has inflicted profound and lasting damage to the regulated entity’s finances," he said.
"Despite implementing a vast programme of emergency mitigations, 66 million passengers, €900 million in revenue and over €500 million in earnings have been lost over the period 2020 – 2022."
"Net debt has doubled to a record high level of over €1 billion and the balance sheet is now materially impacted."
He said the airport had entered the pandemic with "unsustainably low airport charges, reduced allowed earnings and limited financial headroom to withstand downside risks or external shocks."
In reference to delays in airport security screening in recent months, the airport boss said recent experiences have highlighted passengers are generally expecting a swift return to pre-pandemic service levels.
"Unfortunately, it will take time, cost and additional human resources to improve standards from the current minimum levels in place," he said.
"We understand that the ideal template is to deliver a sustainable, unconstrained level of service at an affordable price."
"However, delivering a high-quality airport experience through an ultra-low passenger charge is an unsustainable permutation."
He said real choices are now faced over the proposition that is planned for the next five to ten years, with difficult trade-offs required in the parallel pursuit of growth, efficiency, sustainability and affordability.
"Post pandemic, the reality is that the 'value' proposition consumers and airlines require, cannot be delivered under the current artificially low price caps," he added.