Owners of ‘strategic’ land at Dublin Airport say they plan to sell to ‘international fund’

Businessman Ulick McEvaddy has pledged to press ahead with the sale of a large land bank at Dublin Airport to an international fund by the end of the year.

Brothers Ulick and Des McEvaddy and three co-owners put the 105-hectare site between the two runways – which the owners say is critical to expansion plans for Dublin Airport – up for sale in May.

While they hoped to attract bids of more than €200 million, Mr McEvaddy described a bid of €75 million from the DAA – which runs Dublin Airport – as “derisory”.

Mr McEvaddy said he did not expect the DAA to make another offer and said the co-owners will be dealing three other bidders – including international “venture capital and pension funds” – who he said have offered significantly more.

While he said the consortium’s preferred approach was to sell the land to Dublin Airport, the price offered was not realistic.

“It’s derisory for a strategic land bank. They paid €1.7 million an acre for the car park, which is not strategic. It’s income-earning, but it’s not strategic for the future of Dublin Airport. These lands are vital for the expansion of Dublin Airport,” he told RTÉ’s This Week programme.

He said the DAA was “delusional” in its previously stated belief that it may have been the only bidder for the land.

When asked what a private buyer could do with the land, other than sell it to the DAA, he said some potential buyers want the current owners to proceed with a European court case. If successful, he said a newly built private terminal could have access to the airport’s runways.

In response, Kenny Jacobs, chief executive of DAA, said the board was interested in the land “at the right price”.

“It’s an interesting piece of land, it’s not a strategic piece of land. We have a big vision for Dublin Airport to grow from 32 to 40 million [passengers]. That will be the infrastructural application we’ll submit to Fingal County Council by the end of the year. That does not include this land,” he told RTÉ.

Mr Jacobs added that the piece of land in question would not feature in “the top 20″ of its strategic infrastructural projects under consideration.

“This piece of land will never be used to build a third terminal. We have some interest in it, because we could build some taxiways, some other airport facilities. We’d like to have it. We’ve done two independent valuations on the piece of land … we’re interested. That’s why we made a very sensible bid, on the basis of two independent valuations,” he said.

“We put in an offer in excess of those valuations. If they have three to five bidders in excess of the price they’re looking for – of €200 million – good luck to them,” he said.

Mr Jacobs said the DAA did not have plans to make a revised offer.

“We’ve made a very serious, a very sensible offer. The board of DAA approved that offer. It stands to the end of the year. We won’t go back and make another offer,” he said.

When asked why the lands featured in DAA expansion plans drawn up in 2019, Mr Jacobs said its blueprint has since changed.

He noted that there has been a “lot of noise” about this land in the past 30 days, while there had been very little over the past 30 years.

He added that there was no need for a third terminal for the next 25 years or so and, if there is, it would likely be situated beside the existing terminals one and two.


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