I propose to take Questions Nos. 930, 961 and 962 together.
In accordance with Aviation Regulation Act 2001, as amended, the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) has statutory responsibility for setting maximum airport charges at Dublin airport taking account of national aviation policy. I have no function in setting the level of airport charge.
This independent regulation is intended to serve as a proxy for competition and to require the regulated entity (daa) to do things both in terms of pricing and quality of service provision at Dublin Airport that it would almost certainly not choose to do given a free hand. The overriding strategic objective is to ensure that current and future airport customers are presented with choice, value and quality services which also meet the highest international safety and security standards.
In the Final Determination on the maximum level of airport charges at Dublin Airport, for the period 2020 to 2024 recently announced by CAR, the average price for the period 2020 – 2024 will be €7.87. This represents an 11% reduction in the base-level 2019 price cap of €8.81 and was made following an extended period of stakeholder consultation. The reasons underpinning this Final Determination have been set out in some detail by CAR in the published document.
I understand that CAR has acknowledged the need for Dublin Airport to grow and that capital investment is required in both existing and new capacity generating infrastructure which are key pieces of national infrastructure. The price set by CAR makes provision for all capital projects proposed by the daa – up to €2.3bn of capital investment in the period. The implementation of this investment programme will result in an airport capable of serving 40m passengers per year.
With regard to the airports outside Dublin there are always competitive challenges to be faced not least because of the overlap in catchment areas with Dublin Airport and/or each other. Indeed it is for this reason that only Dublin Airport is considered to have market power that necessitates regulatory intervention to protect the interests of consumers. There is clearly a market to be served by the regional airports generally and I am confident that they will continue to successfully exploit the opportunities and grow services. With the exception of Waterford Airport which has not had scheduled services for some years, both the State-owned and other regional airports have all increased passenger traffic over recent years.