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Dublin Airport woos AI to be its European hub

The airport authority is trying to convince the Indian carrier to make Dublin Airport its European hub, promising an estimated 14 million euros in savings.

twitter-logo PTI   New Delhi     Last Updated: September 20, 2010  | 15:56 IST

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is in talks with Air India, convincing it to use the Irish airport as its European hub. The authority has promised an estimated annual savings of 14 million euros and immigration and customs clearance for its passengers transiting to the United States.

The talks have been going on for the past several months, since the national carrier started looking for another hub in Europe after Frankfurt.

Air India, which operates three flights out of India and two from the US to its Frankfurt hub, has been considering shifting out of the German city and was looking for another European airport as a hub. However, no firm decision has yet been taken.

With a high-level Air India team visiting Dublin Airport a few months ago, DAA Chief Executive Declan Collier is now here to take the discussions with Air India further.

DAA was also looking at Kingfisher as a potential customer which can make the Irish airport its hub. Jet Airways already has Brussels as its operational hub in Europe.

"Compared to Frankfurt, we have estimated that Air India can save up to 14 million euros per year through lower aeronautical charges, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) charges (of the US) and other facilities," DAA Communications Director Vicent Wall said.

"We can also turnaround Air India planes in a short span of two hours. That is what they need. Our costs are about 25 per cent cheaper than any European airport," he said.

A new and modern terminal building of DAA that would start functioning from November, would have pre-clearance for customs and immigration for passengers travelling to the US at Dublin itself.

"This pre-clearance facility, which is also available at Shannon airport in Ireland, would allow Indian passengers to avoid long queues at US entry points and take a taxi right after getting out of the aircraft in America," Wall said.

"No other European airport will have this facility that will make life easier for passengers transiting to the US," he said, adding Ireland and the US have an 'open sky' agreement.

Air India aircraft would have dedicated parking bays and its passengers would have separate check-in counters, baggage clearance points and duty-free shopping areas at Dublin. Air India currently flies about half a million passengers annually to the US.

Over and above, the Indian carrier would be able to enjoy the advantages of a "an uncongested airspace", allowing it to curb any delay or fuel burnup due to heavy air traffic, the DAA official said.

Replying to questions, Wall said DAA was participating in the Delhi International Airport Limited as a minority partner, investing its airport management expertise.

DAA was interested in participating in the modernisation and upgradation of Indian airports as joint venture partners, he added.

Dublin Airport is among the ten largest airports in Europe, from where 40 airlines, including five from the US and Etihad of the UAE, operate.

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