Aer Lingus COO Mike Rutter has strongly criticized facilities at the Irish flag carrier’s home base airport, saying they threaten the airline’s expansion.

Rutter said if the situation does not improve, Aer Lingus or its parent, International Airlines Group (IAG), could decide to redeploy new aircraft to other IAG members, which include Spanish flag carrier Iberia, British Airways and Spanish LCC Vueling.

The airport responded it was involved in major expansion and had to cater to all users, not only Aer Lingus.

Announcing the carrier’s latest transatlantic route to Philadelphia Oct. 4, Rutter said that while the airline saw “no substantive constraints” on growing its opportunities from Dublin, a lack of infrastructure at Dublin Airport “means that doing business has become more difficult than it should be.”

He cited the difficulty of getting arriving aircraft onto stands swiftly and the need for new taxiways.

“It requires investment in taxiways, gates and stands—standard airport investments.” Aer Lingus had put in place its own measures to try to keep its level of service to an acceptable standard as it expanded, he said, but “the airport has to address key pinch points.”

Speaking to ATW, Rutter said: “Relations with Dublin Airport have soured immensely over the past year. We have differing levels of ambition. The airport has enjoyed strong growth. Up until this year it’s been able to absorb that growth without having to commit substantial capital to the business. We believe they now have to invest in taxiway improvements, stand capability.”

He added, “If there are no improvements, in the long term we will have to look at where these [new] aircraft are deployed. There are other airlines in the group that could happily take them.”

In a written response, the airport authority noted that: “Dublin Airport is managed in the best interests of the Irish economy to grow connectivity and to meet the needs of all of its airline customers, rather than just one. Dublin Airport is currently investing about €100 million ($117 million) per year to upgrade its facilities and we will shortly present proposals for an enhanced investment program to our airline customers for consultation,” it said.

“As part of our investment in new capacity, a new boarding gate area will open later this year, which will be used by Aer Lingus flights among others. We welcome Aer Lingus’ decision to launch a new Dublin-Philadelphia service next year and to continue to expand its overall transatlantic business at Dublin Airport,” the airport authority added.

Alan Dron