Dublin Airport Faces Backlash Over Proposed Night-Time Operations

A proposal by the Dublin Airport Authority to extend night-time operations is hitting some roadblocks. Dublin Airport is spending €320 million ($279 million) building a new runway. The airport also wants to amend curfew restrictions on the nighttime use of their runways. That will boost the number of flights in and out of the airport. But at least one Government Minister is opposing the airport’s plans.

Dublin Airport wants to raise movement limits and relax curfews when its new runway opens. Photo: Dublin Airport

Before the travel downturn, Dublin Airport was one of the busiest in the EU and one of the fastest-growing. It is the entry point for over 80% of all arrivals into Ireland. The Dublin Airport Authority has submitted an application to Fingal County Council asking to extend its operating hours and change some night-time operations.

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The airport wants to remove the cap on the number of flights permitted between 23:00 and 07:00 daily. That cap is due to come into effect when the new north runway opens in 2022. Dublin Airport wants to replace it with an annual night-time noise quota between the hours of 13:00 and 06:00. They also want permission to allow flights to take off from or land on the new north runway (Runway 10L 28R) between 23:00 and midnight and 06:00 and 07:00.

Dublin Airport’s proposal attracts support

The proposal has attracted plenty of attention. Fingal County Council reports around 250 submissions on the application have been received. Dublin Airport has plenty of supporters. Big users of the airport like Ryanair and Aer Lingus are throwing their weight behind the proposal.

Dublin’s Chamber of Commerce is also behind a relaxation of runway rules at Dublin Airport.

“Dublin Chamber recognizes the need to balance the operating requirements of the airport and Ireland’s interest in international connectivity with the needs and impact on the community,” says their submission regarding Dublin Airports proposal.

“We welcome the proposals put forward by the airport in the planning application as striking a balance between those needs while ensuring that the airport maintains its competitive edge.”

Ryan Air and Aer Lingus are behind Dublin Airport’s plan. Photo: Dublin Airport

Not everyone supports Dublin Airport’s plans

But not everybody is onboard. A Green Party Government Minister, Roderic O’Gorman, says the proposed relaxation of rules regarding curfews and aircraft movements threatens the peace and quiet of those who live near the new runway.

In a submission dated January 29, Mr O’Gorman says keeping the restrictions in place would make a significant difference to people living around the airport.

“As things currently stand, the opening of the North runway, in conjunction with the restrictions which were made a condition of the planning permission for that runway, would result in a reduction in noise levels experienced by many people.

“Rejecting this proposal and maintaining the current restrictions is what residents prefer.”

The new north runway under construction at Dublin Airport. Photo: Dublin Airport

If Dublin Airport gets its way, the Government Minister says;

“The level of noise that they (local residents) are experiencing will remain the same, and they will experience new night noise. This is unacceptable.”

The organization responsible for making the decision is the Aircraft Noise Competent Authority. ANCA is a separate and independent Directorate within Fingal County Council. Dublin Airport has to wait after lodging their proposal while public consultations take place, draft decisions are issued, and feedback is received. Only then will the airport receive a final decision. At this stage, the date for any final decision remains undisclosed.