Committee on Finance. - Vote 41—Transport and Power.

I move:

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £671,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payments during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1970 for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Transport and Power, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of sundry grants-in-aid.

This Supplementary Estimate is necessary to meet excess expenditure on certain subheads of the Vote which could not have been foreseen or provided for when the original Estimates were framed. The main items are an addition of £650,000 to this year's grant to CIE and an additional £800,000 for constructional works at the airports. There are smaller excesses totalling £90,000 on three other subheads as set out in the Estimate, bringing the total extra expenditure to £1,540,000. More than half of this is offset, however, by savings on other subheads of the Vote and by increases in appropriations in aid caused by buoyant airport revenue. The result is that out of the total additional expenditure of £1,540,000 the amount to be voted by the Dáil is reduced to £671,000.

As regards the additional grant for CIE, Deputies will recall that a draft Order increasing the annual grant to the board from £2 million to £2.65 million was discussed in the House and approved on 10th December, 1969. In order to give formal implementation to what the House approved in the Order, an additional sum of £650,000 in the current financial year will have to be provided for CIE in this Supplementary Estimate. I do not think the House will wish to debate the matter again.

The other major item is, as I have mentioned, a provision of £800,000 for airport construction works. As Deputies are aware, the civil aviation industry has been one of dramatic development and growth. Over recent years in the number of air passengers has shown an average annual increase of 14 per cent. All the indications are that this rate of growth will continue and that passenger air traffic will double itself over the next six to seven years. Air freight has shown an even greater growth rate. Over the past five years there was an average annual increase of 21 per cent. This rate of growth is expected to increase with the advent of high capacity aircraft.

The average growth of transatlantic passenger traffic at Shannon has been 17 per cent per year over the past five years while the growth in air freight at the airport has averaged 28 per cent. At Dublin the average annual growth in passenger traffic has been six per cent and in freight eight per cent over the same period.

Both airports are literally "bursting at the seams" and extensive new accommodation and facilities are being provided to cater for increasing traffic and for the new large capacity aircraft which are expected. The Boeing 747 aircraft has already come into service on the North Atlantic and next summer will see movements through Shannon by these aircraft either on a scheduled or non-scheduled basis. Aerlínte will introduce their Boeing 747 aircraft on the North Atlantic in the summer of 1971. The short haul air bus is in the process of development and so large capacity short haul aircraft should be commonplace on European routes in a few years. There is in progress throughout the world a vast re-equipment in the aviation industry both in the air and on the ground. Airlines and airport services are part of the infrastructure of any modern progressive State and we have no alternative to incurring the substantial expenditure involved in keeping abreast of developments in order to safeguard our investment to date and to ensure adequate transport facilities for our people and the tourist industry.

At Dublin airport a new passenger terminal is in course of erection. This work forms part of the long-term passenger developments plan for Dublin to meet requirements up to 1990. The new buildings are designed to allow for further expansion to meet continuing requirements. The total cost of this stage of the work including all necessary equipment, e.g. air bridges, baggage handling equipment, communications system, furniture, et cetera, will be about £6 million. It is planned to have sufficient facilities available to handle the Boeing 747 aircraft when they are introduced by Aerlínte in the summer of 1971. A new freight terminal has already been completed while the new catering building is nearing completion and it is hoped to have it in operation for next summer. Extensive new apron space is also being provided at the airport. New parallel runways running in an east-west direction are also planned. The first will be provided within the next few years and the second as soon as traffic requires it, possibly in 10-15 years time. Preliminary planning of the new runway system is in progress and the necessary additional land is being acquired.

A new terminal and pier building are being provided at Shannon at an estimated cost of £2½ million which should meet requirements for a number of years to come. The pier building will be available for use by passengers during the coming summer and the terminal buildings should be ready for use by summer 1971. Should a Boeing 747 landing take place before this summer the airport would be in a position to handle it, though with some degree of congestion if it occurred at a peak period. As at Dublin the new buildings at Shannon have been planned with a view to further expansion. Extensive additional apron space is also being provided at Shannon. An extension of the main runway is at the planning stage.

Due to various factors including the exceptionally favourable weather last year the work on the new terminal buildings at Dublin and Shannon has proceeded much faster than was anticipated. In the circumstances the provision in this year's Estimate has proved inadequate and a further £800,000 is required for airport construction.

I commend the Supplementary Estimate to the House.

In view of the fact that most of the items covered in this Supplementary Estimate have already been discussed in the course of the debate which has just concluded and during which I have referred to airport construction and development I do not propose to open a debate on this again. I support this Supplementary Estimate. I hope the projected developments at the airport will proceed as the Minister anticipates. This work is very necessary.

Vote put and agreed to.
Vote reported and agreed to.