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July 29 2017 2:30 AM
Dublin Airport has defended its infrastructure development programme after IAG boss Willie Walsh claimed that deficiencies at the country's biggest gateway are unacceptable and might result in the airline group diverting investment away from Aer Lingus to other carriers in its portfolio.
IAG acquired Aer Lingus in 2015 and since then the former State-owned carrier has rapidly accelerated its transatlantic growth, adding additional routes and capacity.
Dublin Airport, controlled by semi-state DAA, has been investing heavily in new infrastructure, but at peak times suffers from capacity strain.
Mr Walsh claimed that the airport's performance "is not in line with what we would like to see".
"Unless we have confidence that we can address these issues, then we have to question whether it's appropriate for us to put more capacity into Dublin," he said.
A DAA spokesman pointed out that it is investing €100m a year to upgrade and maintain facilities at the Airport, which is on track to handle about 30 million passengers this year.
"Dublin Airport is committed to working with all its customers to help them operate efficiently and to grow their business at Dublin," said the spokesman. In its 2014 submission to the Commission for Aviation Regulation regarding a review of airport charges, Aer Lingus said that no further infrastructure development was necessary at Dublin Airport. But its transatlantic expansion plans were accelerated the following year once it was acquired by IAG.
"The airport can't take our expansion for granted," said Mr Walsh. However, he added that there is "more opportunity" for Aer Lingus to grow its transatlantic business. IAG released strong first-half results yesterday, with the operating profit at Aer Lingus jumping 40pc to €59m in the period as transatlantic traffic and a strong Easter boosted its bottom line. Its revenue in the period rose to €839m from €787m in the first half of 2016.
Mr Walsh declined to comment on claims by Aer Lingus unions for wage increases and profit share that could that could cost the airline €80m.