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Airport bosses told to resolve queue issues by Tuesday

Concern has been growing ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

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Passengers in Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport in the Republic of Ireland, as travel restrictions in and out of the country are lifted. Picture date: Monday July 19, 2021.

Passengers in Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport in the Republic of Ireland, as travel restrictions in and out of the country are lifted. Picture date: Monday July 19, 2021.

Passengers in Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport in the Republic of Ireland, as travel restrictions in and out of the country are lifted. Picture date: Monday July 19, 2021.

Dublin Airport bosses have been told to come up with solutions to resolve the lengthy delays faced by passengers by Tuesday morning.

Officials were told of government ministers’ “immense disappointment and frustration” at the scenes over the weekend which led to more than 1,000 passengers missing their flights.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the situation was “unacceptable and not good enough”.

Concern has been growing about what could unfold at the airport ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

On Sunday, bosses warned of “significant queues” for passengers at the country’s main airport.

They were forced to queue outside the terminal and waited up three hours to check in.

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On Monday, officials from the Dublin Airport authority, DAA, met Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and junior minister Hildegarde Naughton to discuss the issue.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Mr Martin said: “It is unacceptable what has happened, it’s not good enough and people should not be treated in that way.

“And there will be daily meetings between the Department of Transport now and the DAA and Government is looking for a very clear plan to ensure that this type of thing doesn’t happen again and that whatever has to be done now is done to improve the operational efficiency of Dublin Airport.”

Asked if the army should be deployed to help address the shortfall in security staff, Mr Martin said: “I think it’s a question that DAA needs to develop the capacity very, very quickly to deal with this.

“The answer lies within human resource management within DAA and planning within the organisation also.”

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Eamon Ryan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Eamon Ryan (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

Eamon Ryan (Brian Lawless/PA)

In a joint statement after meeting the DAA officials, Mr Ryan and Ms Naughton said: “The ministers said that the excessively long queues and wait times were causing significant distress to passengers as well as reputational damage to the country from a business, travel, connectivity and tourism point of view.

“The ministers have instructed DAA to report back by tomorrow morning on solutions that can be put in place in advance of this bank holiday weekend to deliver an acceptable passenger experience for citizens and visitors departing from the airport.

“The ministers have asked DAA to consider all options that can be taken in immediate and medium term to resolve this matter.

“Daily meetings will be held at ministerial level with DAA until the difficulties persisting at the airport are satisfactorily resolved.

“Minister Naughton emphasised that it is the responsibility of DAA to resolve these matters to the satisfaction of passengers travelling in the days and weeks ahead.

“The ministers stated that the unacceptable queues should not be repeated this Thursday and Friday and into the bank holiday weekend and that intending passengers should be confident that they would make their flight with minimum inconvenience.”

Ms Naughton met airlines on Monday afternoon.

It has also been confirmed that DAA chief executive Dalton Philips will appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee on Wednesday to discuss the airport crisis.

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Hildegarde Naughton (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Hildegarde Naughton (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

PA

Hildegarde Naughton (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

My Ryan said 1,000 people missing their flights was “totally unacceptable”.

“You can’t have thousands of people out queueing outside the terminal buildings,” Mr Ryan added.

“They have acknowledged that, they accepted it was a terrible failing and we have to address and they have to address it.

“It’s an operational issue for the airport, it’s a complex issue about a sudden very large increase in demand for people flying, but at the same time real difficulty in getting the number of people, skilled workers, particularly in the scanning/screening area.

“We said they have to deliver those solutions, they have to come back with options so that what happened doesn’t happen again.”

Mr Ryan said the delay was due to a shortage of staff in key areas.

“Once you go over a certain tipping point then queues do tend to back up, then it makes it more difficult to catch up,” he added.

“Whatever the reason, they have to make sure they are able to manage numbers.”

Officials pledged to try to compensate all passengers who missed flights or had plans disrupted, if additional costs are incurred.

Mr Ryan said that while compensation was an issue for DAA, they were aware that the reputational damage to the airport and country is “very real”.

“This has been an issue they have been grappling with for many weeks,” he added.


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