Fingal Dublin Chamber has called on political parties to support Dublin Airport’s €320m new runway.
The business umbrella group was responding to reports that Government formation talks raised a political demand to cease construction of major infrastructure projects including North Runway at Dublin Airport.
In March the Dublin Airport Authority secured planning approval for amendments to its plans for the 3.1km airstrip which was first mooted more than a decade ago and is now under construction.
Fingal Dublin Chamber Chief Executive Anthony Cooney said: “While normal operations may be temporarily halted as our society and economy sustain the shocking blows of the Covid-19, there is also a need to plan for the recovery.
“Although the short-term future is grim, we will get through this and must now make decisions that will in time, help us to shine.
“Dublin Airport has experienced extraordinary growth in recent years and is one of the most important economic assets in the country. The main runway opened 30 years ago, and annual traffic has grown from five million passengers in 1989 to almost 33million in 2019.
“During normal times the main runway is effectively full at peak times so the airport urgently requires additional runway capacity.
“Government policy has supported the plans to deliver a new runway at Dublin Airport to ensure that the airport has sufficient capacity to grow and to offer direct services to global emerging markets.
“However, recent reports suggest the North Runway may be mothballed in Government negotiations.”
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The runway – which has caused concerns for neighbouring communities as well as the Irish Airline Pilots Association – first got planning approval in 2008 but was shelved due to the economic crash.
Mr Cooney warned: “We believe mothballing such a crucial investment at this stage would be detrimental to the economy.
“As future visitors look out of their aeroplane windows, we cannot allow their first or last experience of Ireland to be the sight of a “white elephant” of an unfinished stretch of runway.”
Research estimates that the North Runway, which is being funded entirely by the DAA, will facilitate the creation of 31,200 jobs and will add €2.2billion to Ireland’s GDP by 2043.
Mr Cooney concluded: “Before the crisis, Dublin Airport had flights to more than 190 destinations in 42 countries operated by almost 50 airlines, making it the tenth-largest airport in the European Union.
“While Covid-19 has resulted in an unprecedented drop in passenger numbers, we cannot be complacent about planning for future growth when consumer confidence returns.
“Fingal Dublin Chamber are calling on the next Government to support the completion and efficient utilisation of North Runway.”