The airport company DAA, which owns and operates Cork and Dublin airport, is losing €1m a day due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
So far the company has lost €160m in lost turnover and further significant losses are expected this year.
DAA has operations in 16 countries and the global pandemic has affected all of its businesses.
Traffic at Dublin and Cork Airports has collapsed, with passenger numbers fallen by 99% in April and May.
The company said while the two airports had enjoyed a positive start to the year in terms of traffic growth, the sharp fall in travel in recent months means that overall 2020 passenger numbers have already declined by 55% and will fall further.
In order to combat the €1m loss a day, cost-cutting measures have been introduced and staff have been placed on a four-day week, and a right-sizing programme is in progress offering voluntary severance schemes, career breaks and reduced hours working.
The company’s Chief Executive Dalton Philips said “This is the most serious crisis that has ever faced the international aviation sector and our business, “Our business and the wider sector have weathered many previous upheavals, such as the recent recession, the impact of September 11, and the 1970s oil crisis, and it will eventually recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. But it is likely to take some time as the short-term future is bleak, and the post COVID industry will be very different.” While passenger traffic has slowed to a trickle, both Dublin and Cork Airports have remained open throughout the crisis in line with Irish Government policy.
Dublin and Cork Airports have enabling people to return home and are facilitating essential cargo flights.
Passenger numbers for Dublin and Cork Airports could be as low as nine million for this year, compared to a combined 35.5 million passengers last year, according to Mr Philips. Passenger numbers for 2021 may be about 21 million, which would represent a 40% decline in traffic compared to 2019.
“When Dublin and Cork Airports last had that level of passenger numbers, they had between 750 and 1,000 fewer employees, so, unfortunately, we have to take unpalatable measures to lower our costs across all areas of the business,” Mr Philips added.
Changes in work practices are also being introduced to keep passengers and staff safe in a post-COVID-19 environment and also to make the business more effective.
Both Dublin and Cork Airports have undergone deep cleaning and the airports have been transformed in light of requirements post COVID-19.
Essential projects, such as the upgrade to hold baggage screening systems at Dublin and Cork Airports – which is a regulatory requirement – will continue. daa will also seek planning permission for future works during the downturn.
“Ireland should not make the mistakes of the past when it comes to building key pieces of national infrastructure,” according to Mr Philips.
DAA’s results for 2019, show that turnover increased by 4% to €935 million, as growth in the Group’s domestic revenue, which accounts for more than two-thirds of DAA’s overall business, was slightly ahead of overseas growth.
Total passenger numbers for Dublin and Cork Airports increased by 5% to a record 35.5 million last year. Cork Airport, which was the State’s fastest-growing airport in 2019, had its fourth successive year of increased traffic.