Dublin Airport operator Daa has announced its plans to ensure it is fully resourced ahead of the expected summer surge in passenger numbers. This comes after long waiting times experienced at certain points last year. The UK’s largest tour operator, Jet2, has reported an increase in demand for summer holidays, selling 7% more seats for this summer compared to last. Easyjet has also raised its profit target for this year amid strong bookings. Ryanair is also expecting to benefit from the rebounding demand for travel this summer.
Daa has stated that it has returned to profitability after cumulative losses of €387m over the first two years of the pandemic. In 2022, the Daa Group recorded a profit of €98m before exceptional items were taken into account. The group, which also operates Cork Airport as well as airports in Saudi Arabia, reported passenger numbers in 2022 recovered to 85% of pre-pandemic figures, with 30.3m people passing through the two Irish airports in 2022, up from the 8.7m recorded in 2021. The vast majority of these passengers, 28.1m, went through Dublin Airport, while Cork Airport welcomed 2.24m passengers, which represents a 766% increase on 2021 and 86% of 2019’s passenger numbers.
Daa has stated that strong passenger numbers have continued through the start of this year and it is looking ahead towards a busy summer. Daa chief executive Kenny Jacobs said 2022 was a “challenging year” for everyone working in global aviation due to the “sudden surge in demand for international travel” following the easing of covid restrictions. He added that 1,000 staff were recruited in 2022 and since last August around 90% of passengers have passed through security in under 20 minutes.
The Daa Group operates in 15 countries and encompasses retail management company Aer Rianta International and Daa International, which manages airports as well as travel retail in other countries. The group invested €158m in capital expenditure in 2022, most of which, €156m, was in Dublin and Cork airports. The remaining €2m was spent on its international business. Turnover at Daa Group in 2022 stood at €752m, up from the €324m recorded in 2021. The group’s operating costs for the year stood at €461m, while its net debt came to €840m.
Catherine Gubbins, Daa’s group chief financial officer, welcomed the return to profitability but said the board has decided “not to provide for the payment of a dividend”. She added that the board has concerns in relation to the group’s ability to pay a dividend over the next number of years, given the significant impact the pandemic had on its finances and the scale of capital expenditure required to address capacity challenges at Dublin Airport.
The Daa has also taken a High Court action against the Commission for Aviation Regulation as it seeks to increase the maximum level of passenger charges it can level on airlines.