Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Fri July 08 2016

Dublin Upgrade Could Make Airport An Attractive Transatlantic Hub

Airlines & Airports | Josh Lew | July 08, 2016

Dublin Upgrade Could Make Airport An Attractive Transatlantic Hub

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Dublin Airport could be positioning itself to become a major transatlantic hub in the coming years if Brexit hurts U.K. airports. Local authorities are hiring experts to conduct a review of a planned €320 million runway expansion. The Fingal County Council wants to know how this expansion will affect the airport’s current efficiency and operations plan. 

The expansion plan was not introduced recently. In fact, it was first tabled in 2007. However, Ireland’s economic downturn caused it to be delayed. Now, long-haul low-cost carriers are interested in using the airport, and others in the island nation, as cheaper alternatives to U.K. and continental hubs. 

Now that Great Britain is leaving the European Union, there are questions about whether or not airlines will be able to enjoy the same kind of access at Heathrow and other U.K. hubs in the future. Dublin’s improvements could help it take a bigger role in the transatlantic marketplace for both low cost carriers and full service airlines.

Read More: Ryanair and Aer Lingus Near Passenger Sharing Deal

The project, which includes the 3.1 kilometer runway, is slated to start next year. It could be completed as early as 2020. Despite the call for the review of the plan, the Dublin Airport Authority, which oversees operations at both Dublin and Cork airports, has already announced that the project is going ahead. 

Even with the Brexit variable, Dublin is expected to be one of Europe’s fastest growing airports. It saw 25 million passengers last year, a 15 percent increase over 2014. Projections suggest that 27 million fliers will pass through the hub by the end of 2016. 

The airport has already made upgrades to deal with the traffic increase. Six-two new self-check kiosks have been added to the check-in area. These will allow passengers from Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Flybe and Cityjet to check themselves in without having to wait in line. Some of the aforementioned airlines will even allow passengers to check baggage and print tags at the kiosks. They can then drop their baggage off for screening themselves, meaning the whole process can take place without any face-to-face interaction. 

Other airlines that use the hub have reportedly also expressed interest in using the self-check system. 

Read More: Air Canada Adds Seasonal Dublin Flights from Vancouver  

Vincent Harrison, the managing director of the airport, told the media that the relatively small investment could help the airport in both the present and in the future. "This €2M investment streamlines and simplifies the baggage check-in process for passengers. It will reduce check-in queue times and also increase the overall capacity at check-in in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.”

In a nod to low-cost carriers, the new kiosks can be upgraded so that, in the future, passengers can use the interface to pay fees for checked baggage or other services. 

There is one drawback to these upgrades for Dublin residents. The runway work, which could start as early as September, would force planes to change their routes after takeoff. This means it will be a lot noisier for some local residents over the next several years. 

The current and planned upgrades will make it possible for Dublin airport to handle its current growth rate. The changes could also make the airport an attractive alternative to England’s airports when it comes to transatlantic flights. 

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