Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Blow for holidaymakers as Daa car park purchase move blocked over price concerns

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IRISH holidaymakers struggling to get parking at Dublin Airport during peak travel seasons have been dealt a major blow.

Dublin Airport operator, Daa, has been refused permission to buy a large disused car park near the airport.

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Daa has been refused permission to buy a large disused car park near the airport

The planned purchase of the QuickPark facility on the Swords Road in Santry was aimed at helping relieve parking pressure at the busy airport.

The site, which currently has 6,200 idle spaces, closed in September 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the purchase move, which would have resulted in Daa owning over 90 per cent of the public car parking spaces, was shot down by the competition regulator today.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) said it was blocking the sale due to concerns that the deal would lead to higher prices and lower service quality for consumers.

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A probe by the CCPC determined the deal would substantially lessen competition in car parking serving Dublin Airport.

It added that that because the Daa would not face competition for customers from any other large car park providers, this would have harmful consequences for consumers.

CCPC chief Brian McHugh said: “Competition among businesses is vital to drive value, consumer choice and innovation.

“Our investigation found that this deal would eliminate Daa’s only significant competitor for public car parking serving Dublin Airport and result in Daa essentially having a near monopoly.

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“This would be likely to lead to higher prices for consumers because Daa would not have to compete to win car parking customers.”

The CCPC added that while there are six hotels which provide car parking to airport passengers, these car parks are very small in comparison, with five of the six having a share of approximately 1 per cent each.

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It added that the “car park provides an important level of competition in the market for public car parking spaces near the airport.

“Without this competition, Daa would be able to increase prices or reduce service quality for its car parks with limited consequences.”

“In the past, Daa responded to competition from QuickPark to win business – for example, through discounts and other promotional campaigns. If Daa purchased the car park, this competition would be lost and Daa would not face the same pressure to attract potential customers by improving its prices or service quality.”

The CCPC concluded: “The car park was, and remains, an attractive and viable business opportunity for alternative purchasers.

“Permitting daa to purchase the car park would have been likely to result in consumers facing increased prices or reduced service quality.”

‘Baffled’

Daa said it was “disappointed” by the decision to block the purchasing of the parking facility.

They insisted that the move was “bad news for passengers who will face difficulty finding parking at the airport in the summer peak”,

Daa added that it was “baffled” by the view that “buying the facility would have led to car park prices increasing”.

They argued that “it would have the opposite effect, as is the norm in supply and demand economics”.

Daa CEO Kenny Jacobs said: “Daa is committing to keep summer 2024 prices in line with summer 2023. We will also do everything we can to find alternative potential summer car park sites and we will keep passengers informed via the Dublin Airport website.

Public advice

“As always, our advice to the public is to book early. At the same time, we will continue to promote the alternative travel options available, including an average of more than 1,000 bus departures from the airport every day – all while frustrated passengers pass by the QuickPark facility which remains empty.

“Daa did all it could over the past 13 months to satisfy the CCPC including offering to give up as a remedy one third of the spaces to a third party. We will review the CCPC’s decision and consider all options, including an appeal.”

Daa said they plan to review the CCPC’s decision and consider all options, including an appeal.

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