PASSENGERS at Dublin airport are experiencing the worst delays for five years, new figures show.
Almost three out of every 10 planes taking off and landing at Dublin are delayed by more than 15 minutes, according to the Association of European Airlines (AEA).
Dublin is Ireland’s busiest airport, handling 23.3 million passengers last year in comparison to Cork’s 3.2 million and Shannon’s 3.6 million.
The Brussels-based AEA said the percentage of planes delayed at Dublin is at its highest level since 2002 and follows four years of modest improvements.
Last year, 28.1% of all flights departing Dublin for European cities were late, with passengers suffering an average 40-minute delay.
Similarly, 28.7% of all planes arriving from European cities were delayed by more than 15 minutes. On average, flights were landing 38 minutes behind schedule at Dublin.
In 2006, delays were longer — 45 minutes for late-departing aircraft and 40 minutes for behind-time arrivals — but fewer aeroplanes were held up.
Yesterday, travel consultant John G O’Dwyer said Dublin was struggling to accommodate flights and passengers. “There’s one runway, yet the passenger numbers have grown massively and they’re packing more planes in,” said the Co Tipperary-based travel expert.
Dublin airport was only built for around 7 million passengers, he said.
“More people should be encouraged by better pricing and marketing to fly to airports in the west of Ireland as these are grossly underused.”
AEA punctuality figures for 2007 show the biggest cause of delayed departure from Dublin was the late arrival of incoming aircraft, which in turn held up 11.8% of all take-offs by 35 minutes on average.
Traditional bogeys like the weather caused the fewest delays, but when services were hit by bad conditions then average hold-ups were 53 minutes per flight.
Of Europe’s 27 main
airports, Dublin was last year the fourth worst for planes departing more than 15 minutes late, up from ninth in 2006.
London Heathrow was tops with 36% of all flights leaving quarter of an hour late in 2007, while Gatwick was second and Rome third (both 30%).
Between 2006 and 2003 the percentage of delayed planes had been decreasing at Dublin after a poor 2002 when 23.9% of flights were late by more than 15 minutes while 29.5% of arrivals were held up.
Yesterday, Dublin Airport spokeswoman Siobhán Moore said airlines were responsible for ensuring their flights departed on time.
“Our facilities are there for the airlines and we’re spending 2billion on expanding the airport,” she said.
Yesterday, Ryanair announced passengers booking flights from June 3 would no longer get free priority boarding when they checked-in online, though check-in would remain costless.
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