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Independent audit of Dublin Airport passenger numbers needed – Farrell

25th February 2024 - Alan Farrell TD

The Transport Minister is being asked to order an independent audit of how Dublin Airport counted passengers last year by a Fine Gael TD.


Deputy Alan Farrell, who represents Dublin Fingal East, said he has serious concern regarding the methodology currently being employed by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), with regard to the recording of passenger numbers, at Dublin Airport.


The Fine Gael TD wrote to Minister Eamon Ryan earlier this month asking he initiates an independent investigation to the methods and counting of passengers at Dublin Airport for the year 2023.


The country’s main airport has a cap of 32m passengers annually. A total of 31.908 million passengers passed through the terminals of Dublin Airport in 2023, the airport confirmed recently.[1]


In his letter, Deputy Farrell writes:


“While I recognise and value the enormous positive impact that Dublin Airport has to our economy, on a whole of Ireland basis; and that Dublin Airport provides crucial connectivity options both domestically and internationally. We must recognise that critical State infrastructure, such as Dublin Airport, must adhere to the law.


“We must also recognise that the DAA operates under strict procedures set out by the planning permission that was granted to the DAA for Terminal 2, which stipulates a passenger cap of 32 million passengers per year.


“As discussed at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport & Communications, attended by the DAA on Wednesday, 22nd November 2023[2]; and confirmed by the DAA’s own press release dated Monday, 20th January 2020[3]; the number of passengers counted in Dublin Airport for the year 2019, was calculated to be 32.9 million, breaching the passenger cap.


Furthermore, I have deep concerns with regard to the methodology used by the DAA in calculating passenger figures, specifically with regard to transferring passengers.”


Deputy Farrell said questionable interpretations of passenger count methods and lack of forward planning has led to the current war of words over increasing passenger numbers at the airport, aided and abetted by the usual bellowing vested interests.


Deputy Farrell said, “Far from being the victim of policy and regulations, it appears the DAA are victims of their own failure to implement coherent forward planning within the current framework. Having painted themselves into a corner, they and others, now appear to have taken the approach of inferring economic loss in order to get what they want.”


“The authority has been aware of their operating conditions since the 2000’s, has been further aware of their attractiveness as a destination since their record breaking passenger numbers in 2019, yet failed to foresee that growth in the aviation sector since Covid would be halted by existing planning conditions, referred to as the passenger cap. This cap was applied when planning consent was provided to construct Terminal 2, completed 14 years ago.


“While I welcome the positive economic impact that Dublin Airport has on the Irish economy, I am uncomfortable with the DAA’s attempts to paint individuals with valid questions over the expansion of the passenger cap to 40 million per annum, as anti-jobs and anti-investment.”


“An Bord Pleanala Inspector’s Report, published in 2020, highlights the issues of passenger counting at Dublin Airport in relation to planning conditions, underscoring the importance of getting this right. The DAA have frequently attempted to interpret both these planning conditions and EU Regulation with regard to how passengers are counted.”


“It is abundantly clear from figures reported by DAA in January 2024, that a halt on growth of Dublin Airport is inevitable, is unavoidable and represents a clear and abject failure of the authority to manage its business, on behalf of the Irish people. In the words of the Minister of State in the Department of Transport, in correspondence with a constituent of mine in January 2024, “DAA has statutory responsibility to operate, manage and develop Dublin Airport and matters regarding compliance with planning regulations fall within the operational responsibility of daa.”


Deputy Farrell added, “The importance of Dublin Airport to the Irish economy does not grant the DAA a licence to operate outside of important rules and regulations.”


“I encourage Minister Ryan to ensure an independent audit takes place at the airport to get the correct facts here,” he said.



[2] Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport & Communications, 22/11/23 –

[3] DAA Press Release – Passenger Figures 2019 –

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