Dublin Chamber of Commerce has said the rapid growth in passenger numbers at Dublin Airport proof of the need for a new second runway.
The business umbrella group urged the Government to bring forward the construction of Metro North after it emerged today that Dublin Airport was the fastest growing major airport in Europe for the first six months in 2016.
Passenger numbers increased by 13.4% in the first half of the year, according to new data from ACI Europe, the trade association for European airports.
In the first six months of this year, traffic at the airport grew faster than at Barcelona’s El-Prat Airport, Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, Copenhagen Airport and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
Aebhric McGibney, Director of Public and International Affairs at Dublin Chamber said: “Growth levels at Dublin Airport continue to surprise on the upside.
“The challenge now is to ensure that Dublin Airport is equipped for further growth in the coming years.
“Dublin Airport’s reaction to faster-than-expected growth has been to prioritise the construction of a much-needed new second runway.
“The Minister for Transport must now show the same sense of ambition to ensure that the Metro North link between Dublin City Centre, Dublin Airport and the rapidly-expanding north County Dublin area is built much quicker than the previously-mooted target of 2027.”
He added: “Dublin Airport is a vital piece of national infrastructure, with four out of every five visitors who arrive to Ireland by air coming through it.
“A new rail link is needed not only to serve Dublin Airport, but also to cater for the additional 40,000+ people who will be commuting into Dublin city centre from north county Dublin by 2023.”
Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison said: “Dublin Airport had a very strong performance in the first half of this year, welcoming just over 13 million passengers.
“The growth in passenger numbers at Dublin Airport is having a significant impact on the Irish economy,”
Traffic growth across European airports was 4.9% in the first half of that year, with traffic at non-EU airports within Europe growing by just 0.5%.
He added: “Bringing increased trade and investment and also driving higher visitor numbers, which is in turn boosting the Irish tourist industry.”
A 2015 study by economic consultants InterVistas showed that Dublin Airport is a key strategic asset for the Irish economy as it supports or facilitates 97,400 jobs and contributes €6.9 billion to the economy.
Mr Harrison added: “The significant growth in passenger numbers meant that more than 1.5 million extra customers travelled through Dublin Airport in the first six months of the year.
“This year, Dublin Airport will have a total of 18 new routes and services as well as additional frequencies on 24 existing services.”
To try and continue its growth, Dublin Airport is giving the Arrivals Hall in Terminal 1 a €10million make-over as part of a €20million upgrade project.
Dublin Airport is also progressing its plans for the new €320 million North Runway at the airport.