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Ryanair warns Dublin fares to soar due to passenger cap

Ryanair has warned that air fares to and from Dublin Airport are likely to soar this winter as a result of the cap on the number of passengers allowed to use the facility.

The airline says that the restriction means it will not be able to provide more than 1 million seats at peak periods and for special events, that it otherwise would have laid on.

These include Christmas, half-term, St Patrick’s Day, and sporting events like the Cheltenham Festival, Premier League, Champions League and other matches.

Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson said the airline would have normally added 300,000 additional seats between Dublin and London over the Christmas period, but this year will not be able to.

He predicted that this could lead to one-way fares on that route around the festive period reaching up to €500.

“Prices are going to go through the roof,” Mr Wilson said.

He claimed that the Minister for Transport Minister Eamon Ryan can do something to address the issue and could sign a special ministerial order to increase the passenger cap on what he said was a piece of national infrastructure.

“That is what Governments are there to do – solve problems for their citizens,” he said. “It can be solved today.”

Dublin Airport is currently limited to having 32 million passengers a year use its facility under historical planning permissions.

Last year, in excess of 31.9 million passengers used the two terminals, which essentially means capacity has maxed out.

In allocating aircraft slots, the aviation regulator, the Irish Aviation Authority, recently capped the number of passengers who could use the airport over the coming winter season at 14.4 million – the first time it has ever put a cap in place.

Ryanair said it had planned to add three aircraft, 15 routes and 7.5 million passengers to Dublin Airport this winter, but it only received sufficient slots to carry up to 6.4 million passengers.

The airport operator, daa, has applied for planning permission for infrastructural developments that would enable the cap to be increased to 40 million a year.

However, yesterday it indicated it is considering submitting a second planning application to have the cap increased to 35 million or 36 million on an interim basis.

This would not involve anything new being built, but would be based on the existing infrastructure.

But Eddie Wilson blamed the current situation at Dublin Airport on the failure of the airport operator to apply for planning permission to increase the cap earlier.

“daa were asleep during Covid,” he claimed.

However, he all but ruled out the possibility of Ryanair taking a legal action against the IAA decision, because he said the airline is unlikely to have grounds for a case because it was allocated all the slots for the winter that it previously controlled.

Mr Wilson said it is the additional slots for extra capacity at peak periods and for one-off events that it had been denied.

He also claimed that the problem would continue to get worse beyond the winter of 2024/25 and could last for three to four years while a decision is awaited from Fingal County Council.

“We cannot wait for local planning,” he said.

Ryanair previously said it was moving three aircraft, 16 new routes and 200 jobs away from Dublin Airport to Southern Italy for the summer because of the cap..

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