JetBlue & United Among Airlines Denied Slots Due To Dublin Airport Passenger Cap

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Summary

  • As a result of a passenger cap, Dublin Airport (DUB) will have fewer seats during the upcoming winter season.
  • Some of the affected airlines include US-based carriers, such as JetBlue and United Airlines.
  • The airport is restricted to 32 million passengers per year.

Several airlines, including US-based carriers such as JetBlue and United Airlines, have not received the slots they have requested at Dublin Airport (DUB) for the upcoming winter season, as an artificial passenger cap has constrained the airport’s capacity.

700,000 fewer seats from/to Dublin, Ireland

According to the slot coordination report for the upcoming winter International Air Transport Association (IATA) season, lasting from October 27, 2024, to March 29, 2025, from Airport Coordination Limited (ACL), DUB will have 792,952 fewer seats during the winter 2024/2025 season compared to the winter 2023/2024 season.

In total, there will be 4,578 fewer flight movements, resulting in less capacity being deployed from/to the Irish capital. ACL pointed out that Ryanair will be the largest airline at the airport, holding 49.9% of the total slots at the airport, followed by Aer Lingus (31.7%), and Irish regional airline Emerald Airlines with 12% of the total slots.

Many Ryanair Boeing 737s parked in a line at Dublin Airport.

Photo: Peter Krocka | Shutterstock

To note, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has cited a condition from DUB’s Terminal 2 planning permission to justify the passenger cap, since the permission has limited the combined capacity of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 to 32 million passengers per year. ACL has not published the capacity declaration for the next summer season, which will last between March and October 2025.

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Ryanair Says Traffic Cap At Dublin Airport Has Blocked Over 1 Million Seats This Winter

Dublin Airport (DUB)-based airlines have repeatedly criticized the passenger cap that will be imposed during the upcoming winter season.

Losing historic slots

Nevertheless, another noteworthy item from ACL’s report was that airlines lost as many as 4,580 historic slots, meaning slots that they can use for the upcoming season provided that they had used at least 80% of them throughout the previous season. For example, airBaltic has lost all of its slots at DUB, while Aer Lingus, Emerald Airlines, and Ryanair lost the largest number of historic slots, 1,065, 2,124, and 323 slots, respectively.

DUB-MSP original launch

Photo: Aer Lingus

Meanwhile, there were some airlines that had looked to grow at DUB. Out of the 16,593 new slots that operators had requested, ACL had only allocated 2.9%, or 480. These were distributed to DHL Air UK (176 slots as a new entrant), FedEx (44 slots as a new incumbent), Lufthansa (16 slots as a new incumbent), RVL Aviation (88 slots as a year-round new entrant), and UPS Airlines (156 as a year-round incumbent).

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Stunted growth

However, there are airlines that had planned to grow their operations at the airport serving the Irish capital during the winter. Air Canada requested 308 slots yet received 176, or 57.1% of the requested flight movements from/to DUB. Aegean Airlines was another airline that received fewer slots, or 70.5% of its requested movements.

airBaltic, which lost all of its historic slots, requested 56 movements, receiving zero. During the previous winter season, the Latvian airline operated two weekly flights from Riga Airport (RIX) to DUB, excluding January and February 2024. Pegasus Airlines was another airline that received zero allocated movements.

airBaltic Airbus A220 Engine Closeup

Photo: Tom Boon | Simple Flying

Meanwhile, two US airlines, namely JetBlue and United Airlines, also suffered from the passenger cap. JetBlue, which launched summer seasonal flights to DUB in March 2024, received zero out of 144 requested slots for the upcoming winter season. United Airlines requested an additional 74 slots yet received zero, meaning that the airline has kept the 542 slots it has had at the airport. In comparison, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines will have 616 and 592 approved flight movements, respectively.

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