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What rules govern the ownership of airports (both public and private)?
The three key commercial airports in Ireland (Dublin, Shannon and Cork) are owned and controlled by the Irish state under the State Airports Act 2004 and the State Airports (Shannon Group) Act 2014 (the Shannon Act 2014), which set out the rules regarding the governing bodies for these airports. Private companies also own and manage several regional airports in Ireland, the largest of which include Knock, Donegal, Waterford and Kerry airports.
What is the authorisation procedure for the operation of airports?
Commercial airports and certain aerodromes in Ireland are licensed by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) under Section 60 of the IAA Act as amended by Section 61 of the Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Act 1998. The IAA may also implement any or all of the requirements of Annex 14 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which covers various matters concerning the operation of various types of airport. The licensing of aerodromes is also conducted in accordance with the Chicago Convention, EU Regulation 139/2014 and relevant guidance publications produced by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), ICAO and Eurocontrol.
What ongoing operating requirements apply (including obligations relating to safety, security and facilities maintenance)?
The State Airports Act 2004 and the Shannon Act 2014 establish airport authorities responsible for the ongoing operating requirements of the three state airports (ie, Dublin, Shannon and Cork). Each airport authority can create bylaws in relation to safety, security and the provision of services at their respective airport. Certain safety and operational standards are regulated in accordance with IAA oversight, as described above. The IAA Act empowers the IAA with the responsibility for licensing aerodromes engaged in facilitating commercial aircraft operations. The licensing of private aerodromes engaged in flying training is also subject to IAA oversight and requires a licence. The licensing of aerodromes is conducted in accordance with the Chicago Convention, EU Regulation 139/2014 and relevant guidance publications produced by EASA, ICAO and Eurocontrol.
International aviation security legislation with applicability in Ireland includes ICAO Annex 17, EU Regulation 300/2008 and EU Regulation 185/2010.
What airport charges apply and how are they regulated?
The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) was established by the Aviation Regulation Act 2001 for the principal purpose of regulating airport charges and aviation terminal services charges at Ireland’s commercial airports. The CAR sets the maximum level of airport charges that may be charged by the Dublin Airport Authority at Dublin airport. Airport charges include:
- landing, parking and take-off charges;
- charges for air bridge usage;
- passenger processing charges; and
- cargo charges.
Aviation terminal services charges are charges levied by the IAA on users at Dublin, Shannon and Cork airports and include air traffic control charges relating to the provision of air terminal services for landing and departing aircraft. The EC (Dublin Airport Charges) Regulations 2011 (Statutory Instrument 116/2011) transposed EU Directive 2009/12/EC on airport charges into Irish law, with application to Dublin airport only.
What regulations govern access to airports?
The establishment of the EU single market removed many commercial restrictions on airlines flying within the European Union and allowed all EU carriers to operate services to and from any destination in the European Union. Outside the EU single market, access to the air transport market is regulated by the Chicago Convention and ‘Open Skies’ agreements. Under the Chicago Convention, for example, Ireland has negotiated bilaterally with 29 countries to agree reciprocal access rights for air passenger and cargo services.
What regime governs the allocation of airport slots (including slot transfer, revocation and disputes)?
The allocation of airport slots in Ireland is governed by European Council Regulation 95/93 on common rules for the allocation of slots at community airports, as amended by EU Regulation 793/2004, which includes the regulation of slot transfers. Pursuant to the Aviation Regulation Act 2001, the CAR is responsible for discharging Ireland’s obligations under these regulations. Dublin airport is currently the only airport in Ireland designated by the CAR for airport slot regulation.
How are ground handling services regulated?
Ground handling services are regulated by the EC (Access to the Ground Handling Market at Community Airports) Regulations 1998 (Statutory Instrument 505/1998) (the Ground Handling Regulations), which transposed EU Directive 96/67/EC into Irish law. In order for the Ground Handling Regulations to apply at an airport, annual traffic must be fewer than than two million passenger movements or less than 50,000 tonnes of cargo.
The Ground Handling Regulations provide that an airport may request that the number of approved suppliers of ground handling services be limited to no fewer than two providers in each core ground handling service at a given airport. Subject to the CAR’s approval, airport authorities are entitled to charge a fee for access to airport installations and establish rules of conduct for the proper functioning of the airport.
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