The Irish Times view on parking at Dublin Airport: finding a way forward for passengers

Following the CCPC’s ruling out of DAA’s move to buy an unused car park, other bidders could get the facility up and running again

Anyone who has ever bought a cup of coffee or a sandwich at Dublin Airport will realise that - in common with airports worldwide - encouraging cut-throat competition is not central to the business strategy of the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA). A significant part of its business is based around exploiting the monopoly it has on retail space in its two terminals through which a captive 32 million passengers pass each year.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the DAA should want to extend its dominance to parking at the airport through the acquisition of the only independent car parking facility in the immediate environs ‚QuickPark, which closed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Equally, it should come as no surprise that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has blocked the sale due to concerns that the deal would damage competition. The DAA has offered discounts and other promotions to win business from QuickPark in the past according to the CCPC, which argues that if the DAA is allowed to have a virtual monopoly over parking it would be under less pressure to keep prices low and provide a quality service.

None of this is of much comfort to prospective holiday makers who face a repeat of last summer’s scenes when the DAA carparks were filled to capacity. The DAA is not the only possible buyer of QuickPark and up to six other entities are understood to be interested. Presumably none of them was prepared to match the DAA on price when Quickpark was put on the market for €70 million in 2022.

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It is reasonable to expect that one of these under bidders could now step forward and that the car park could be operational once again by the summer. The main obstacle to this would be an appeal of the CCPC decision to the High Court by the DAA, which it can do within 40 days of the decision. The DAA has a mandate to make money but ultimately it is a State body, with wider responsibilities. If it wants to serve its passengers, it should be happy to see another operator step in.

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