Re: Re: Airports; how many state subsidised airports are required in Ireland
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Agree with Jungle’s points above. Am not a big fan of PSOs and in my opinion it represents bad value for money (although Aer Arann no doubt like it). But back to the thread title.
Dublin needs serious investment in facilities (terminals, extended runways, rail connection to the city). The place is jammers at the moment and it will only get busier. Sadly, the proposed plans for expansion are a half-arsed solution and the reality is that the airport or its users will be no better off. Sadly, Dublin is hostage to political considerations and practical (and better value) solutions are swept aside.
Shannon has great potential too although its current strategy of paying Ryanair for every passenger they fly is probably not the way to build a sustainable operating model. I firmly believe that the ending of the stopover will actually benefit Shannon over the longer term as management finally focuses on its strenghts rather than depending on government life support.
Cork has its spanking new terminal and other infrastructure although the runway and navigation systems remain inadequate (not to mind the culling of three air-bridges). Presumably, it will get a debt write-off of some sort – otherwise the new facility will bankrupt the airport before it can even begin. Thankfully Cork does not have the same overstaffing problems and labour issues as both SNN and DUB, simply because it was traditionally a smaller airport so on the operational side it is somewhat in a better position relative to the others.
All the other airports such as Waterford, Sligo, Kerry, Galway will struggle to establish anything more than the odd PSO route and flights to UK (and maybe northern France) airports. Aside from restricted catchment areas, infrastruture problems such as short runways, limited operating times, lack of ILS navigation systems, etc will work against them. They can however benefit from the small but fast growing business aviation market (helicopters, light business jets, air taxis, light aircraft charters, etc). Cork for instance is presently turning away business jets belonging to the MNCs in the region as there are no available parking stands for them.
Knock has a fine runway but its location works against it. Like much else in Irish aviation policy down the years, politics trumped common sense.
Finally, all the airports in Ireland are subsidised directly or indirectly (either through grants, ownership, or PSOs). Dublin, Shannon and Cork have the potential to operate profitably on an operating level although govenment investment is required for infrastural build out. I would certainly not be in favour of doing what the UK did and privatise the airports…that simply replaces a public monopoly with a private one. But the three airports should operate independently and thus in competition with each other. It would benefit the airports and its customers.