Holidaymakers and other air travellers are being advised to factor in longer queuing times on return trips from European airports due to tighter security checks.
The Irish Travel Agents Association said the checks, being introduced at airports in most EU countries since March, are causing huge delays for many passengers.
While the checks are not imposed on passengers flying out of Ireland or the UK, those boarding at Spanish, French, Italian, Belgian, and Portuguese airports are facing reported delays of up to four hours.
An umbrella body for European airlines, including Ryanair, has called for the responsible authorities to increase staffing in order to minimise the delays.
The measures require authorities to check travel documents against databases of stolen, lost, and invalid documents to combat people using fake identities and reducing terror threats.
ITAA president Cormac Meehan said longer queues are occurring in some airports which are already extremely busy in the peak holiday season. He said his association colleagues will do their best to ensure customers arrive at airports in plenty of time.
“However, we advise all travellers to check with their airlines and ensure they factor these longer queuing times into their travel plans when flying in and out of airports,” said Mr Meehan.
The measures are an extension of the Schengen free travel area accord, to which Ireland and the UK are not signatories.
While systematic or routine checks on exit do not take place here, the Department of Justice said Ireland introduced the systematic screening of travel documents on arrival against Interpol’s database of stolen and lost documents last November.
The problems at EU airports could exacerbate in the coming months as 22 Schengen-affiliated EU states must adopt the new screening measures by early October, says the Airlines For Europe Association.
Hundreds of passengers on British Airways flights to and from London were held up by delays due to another problem with the airline’s check-in systems at Heathrow, Gatwick, and London City airports yesterday.
Some services were almost two hours behind schedule after early-morning BA flights from London had to be checked in manually due to the glitch.
Meanwhile, Dublin Airport Authority has rejected claims its lack of investment is contributing to severe delays for passengers this summer.
The Irish Airline Pilots Association said hold-ups to aircraft going to and from runways were due to the airport’s failure to match growing business with the necessary infrastructure.
The DAA said while there has been faster than expected growth in recent years, it is investing €100m a year in additional capacity.
A spokesperson told RTÉ radio that on-time performance for departing and inbound aircraft in June were 10% and 12%, respectively, better than a year ago.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved