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Daa to Pay State €31m in Dividends as Revenues Exceed €1bn for First Time

Daa – the operator of Dublin and Cork airports – will pay the State a dividend of €31m for 2023, its first since 2019, as it recovers to pre-Covid levels of profitability.

The airport operator’s just-published 2023 annual report shows it made a turnover of just over €1bn last year; up 35% on 2022 and the first time it has ever exceeded €1bn in revenues.

After-tax profits amounted to €176m last year.

Dublin and Cork airports, Ireland’s two busiest international gateways, welcomed 36.3 million passengers in total in 2023. A total of 31.9 million passengers passed through the two terminals at Dublin Airport in 2023, in compliance with the 32 million terminal cap as adjusted for transfer and transit passengers.

Cork Airport enjoyed the busiest year in its 62-year history for international passenger traffic, with 2.8 million passengers travelling through in 2023, a 25% increase on 2022 levels (2.24 million). daa has invested around €40m in Cork Airport since 2018 on the reconstruction of the main runway, a new hold baggage screening system and the opening of a new electrical substation to future-proof the airport. daa will continue to invest further at Cork Airport in 2024, with C3 security screening equipment on a new mezzanine floor to be constructed to improve the overall passenger experience.

Daa’s Chief Financial Officer, Peter Dunne, said: “Whilst our business performed strongly in the period and had cash balances of €805m at the end of the year, the Group also had debt totalling €1.6bn which is over twice the pre-pandemic levels with the majority of it falling due between 2028 and 2032.”

“In addition to refinancing the existing facilities over the coming years, additional debt funding will be required to support the significant investment in sustainable infrastructure needed to provide passenger capacity at Ireland’s two busiest airports in Dublin and Cork. Notwithstanding having some of the lowest airport charges in Europe, our strong commercial performance in this inflationary environment and disciplined approach to capital has resulted in the daa Group maintaining its investment grade status of A-/A-2 with S&P Global Ratings.”

Following a recovery in the Group’s financial position post COVID, daa Chair, Basil Geoghegan, said: “daa’s focus is to continue investing in connectivity and services for the benefit of passengers and Ireland Inc., but that requires delivering returns on capital consistent with other European airports.

“Our aim is to place daa on a more sustainable and robust financial footing to support our planned €2bn capital investment required to meet Ireland’s future connectivity requirements. Progress to date reflects revenue growth and strong improvements in efficiency and innovation, but achieving parity of returns with competing international airports remains challenging given our airport charges are now a fraction of the levels of other capital city airports in Europe.”

On the current stalled growth being experienced at Dublin Airport due to a terminals cap, Kenny Jacobs had this to say: “It is a sign of Ireland’s success that Dublin Airport catered for almost 32 million terminal passengers in 2023 and that there is significant demand from airlines and passengers for additional connectivity. daa has sought planning permission to cater for up to 40 million passengers per year so Dublin Airport can continue to be an engine for Ireland’s growth, bringing jobs, investment and tourism.

We are a small, open, island economy and stalled growth at our national airport sends a negative signal about investment in Ireland. While we await the outcome of the planning process, daa is making every effort to restrict growth to stay within the cap and continues to work with the IAA as slots regulator and our airline customers with a view to managing capacity at Dublin Airport.” 

Geoff Percival
Geoff Percival
Geoff has worked in business, news, consumer and travel journalism for more than 25 years; having worked for and contributed to the likes of The Irish Examiner, Business & Finance, Business Plus, The Sunday Times, The Irish News, Senior Times, and The Sunday Tribune.

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