Dublin Port busier than during the boom as trade soars

The Dublin Port Company has paid an almost €11m dividend to the State as trade and profits surge at the semi-state business.

The dividend for 2015 is almost 24pc more than was paid by Dublin Port in respect of 2014.

Dublin Port Company chief executive Eamonn O’Reilly said that 2016 had started strongly, with the overall level of trade at the facility jumping 6.8pc in the first quarter of the year. Imports were up 6pc in the period, while exports were 7.9pc higher.

The port is now even busier than it was during the boom, with an average of 20 ships a day arriving there during the first three months of 2016. Trade at the port grew 17.3pc in the three years to the end of 2015.

“Were growth to continue at these rates, Dublin Port’s throughput would double by 2026,” said Mr O’Reilly, who has been CEO since 2010.

Dublin Port has already embarked on a major €230m project to expand its facilities. That scheme will be completed in four years.

The so-called Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR) will deepen and extend berths, enabling it to handle bigger vessels.

The European Investment Bank has provided €100m in finance for the Alexandra Basin project.

It’s part of a major masterplan for Dublin Port that is designed to steer expansion to cope with growth up to 2040.

The ABR also includes a scheme for allowing larger cruise ships to visit the capital. They’ll also be able to berth closer to the city centre.

Last year, 93 cruise ships with 149,000 visitors called to the port. Both figures were up on 2014. Among the cruise ships visiting Dublin this year are a Disney Magic liner, and the huge Caribbean Princess, which carries more than 4,000 passengers and crew.

But such is the current rate of growth at Dublin Port, that Mr O’Reilly said the semi-state will now begin to plan other major elements of the existing masterplan that will be required to ensure it has enough future capacity.

Dublin Port’s turnover rose 7.8pc to €77.7m last year, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was 14pc higher at €49.3m. The €10.9m dividend being paid in respect of 2015 amounts to 30pc of Dublin Port’s €36m after-tax profit last year. It made an after-tax profit of €28.9m in 2014.

The port has now paid a total of €89.5m in dividends to the State since 2007.

The amount of roll-on/roll-off traffic handled at Dublin Port rose 7.1pc to 221,696 units in the first three months of 2016.

The amount of lift-on/lift off trade – comprising container traffic – jumped 11.5pc to 163,005 TEUs (a standard container size), reflecting growth in the domestic economy.

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