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Dublin Airport to increase security lanes at peak times in bid to tackle travel chaos

  • Airport bosses given another 24 hours to present plan to avoid bank holiday weekend disruption
  • Ministers told airport operators will improve queue management to ensure passengers do not miss their flights
  • Meeting follows chaotic scenes at the airport as passengers queued for hours

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Queues at Dublin airport. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Queues at Dublin airport. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Queues at Dublin airport. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Dublin Airport will increase the number of security lanes available during peak times and improve queue management to ensure passengers do not miss their flights.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) told ministers they will maximise the availability of staffing resources to combat the lengthy waiting times which saw more than 1,000 people miss their flights last weekend.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and junior minister with responsibility for international transport Hildegarde Naughton met with DAA CEO Dalton Phillips and senior officials this morning to discuss airport queuing times.

The two ministers insisted the DAA must restore confidence in Dublin Airport. Mr Phillips set out how the DAA will provide refunds for travellers who missed flights.

A statement issued by the ministers said: "The ministers received an update from DAA on their plans to manage the passenger experience this weekend and into the summer period. DAA advised on their plan to improve queue management; maximise the availability of staffing resources; and increase the number of security lanes at peak times. DAA also updated ministers on how they intend to compensate passengers who have missed flights.

"The DAA indicated that they are currently finalising operational arrangements. Ministers have asked that DAA clearly communicate their plan, within the next 24 hours, to deliver a satisfactory experience for passengers departing from the airport this bank holiday weekend. Ministers emphasised the importance of restoring passenger confidence in Dublin airport.

"Ministers will continue to engage with DAA on a daily basis," it added.

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Meanwhile speaking in the Dáil today, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said airport managers “must do whatever it takes” to ensure there is no repeat of the security queue chaos witnessed last weekend.

Mr McGrath came under a sustained barrage of criticisms from Opposition leaders following the weekend debacle at the country’s main airport.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Government had failed to intervene effectively to ensure the smooth running of such a vital national facility.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said the problem was not just DAA failures, it also reflected a major failing in aviation policy including a lack of support for regional airports. She also said many airport workers’ were poorly paid and endured bad conditions at a time of spiralling living costs.

People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, said DAA bosses were on €300,000-plus per year salary packages. “Yet they expect airport security workers to operate on rubbishy contracts of €14 per hour,” he said.

Replying for the Government, Mr McGrath said the message to the DAA could not be any clearer. “The DAA needs to do whatever it takes to ensure there is no repeat of what happened last Sunday,” he said.

He agreed with various speakers that the DAA had put in place a redundancy scheme after the collapse of the aviation sector during the Covid pandemic. But he said that recruitment and training efforts to restore services were continuing apace.

He said 300 of the necessary 370 staff had now been recruited and now 170 of these were fully trained. He said the recruitment had attracted 5,000 applications since March and pay and conditions were collectively negotiated between the DAA and the trade unions.

He said a detailed plan from the DAA on remedying the queues and security delays would be produced within the next 24 hours.

It comes as it emerged that Dublin Airport will head into the busy June bank holiday with security staff levels at just 70pc of where they were before the pandemic.

Tensions remain high following a torrid weekend where more than 1,000 people missed flights as queues spilled out of the airport doors.

It follows weeks of problems at the airport, which has blamed lack of staff, among other issues, for long delays at baggage and security queues.

Airport officials told Independent.ie they are facing a very busy bank holiday weekend, with passenger numbers approaching 95pc of pre-pandemic levels.

At the same time, staffing levels are “probably still somewhere around 70pc” of what they were in 2019, according to Graeme McQueen, media manager at the airport.

He said: “The big problem at the weekend was we had staff absences that knocked us off-course early in the morning. We had to react to that and it was very hard to recover.

“Once you get behind early, the passengers don’t stop coming. We tried our best to catch up, with extended overtime, and called people in.

"That got us so far, it helped in the afternoon and evening certainly, but the morning was pretty tough... we’re looking at all options to make sure we don’t have a repeat of that.”


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