Transport ministers to meet with Dublin Airport officials after lengthy queues cause passengers to miss flights

Transport ministers to meet with Dublin Airport officials after lengthy queues cause passengers to miss flights

Passengers queue to get into the Departures at Terminal 2, Dublin Airport this morning. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Transport Ministers Eamon Ryan and Hildegarde Naughton have expressed their deep unhappiness with the lengthy queues at Dublin Airport today.

Dublin Airport has admitted that mistakes were made after it was forced to warn passengers that some could miss flights due to lengthy queues.

The daa, owner and operator of Dublin and Cork Airports, said it expects around 50,000 passengers to pass through the airport over the course of the day.

The airport apologised "unreservedly" and warned that some passengers may miss their flights due to "significant queues" for airline check-in, bag drop and security screening.

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

The ministers said the passenger experience fell short of what should be expected and said it was unsatisfactory that passengers who followed advice and turned up hours before scheduled departures were still missing flights.

Ms Naughton, who has special responsibility for international transport, is to meet officials from the daa first thing in the morning to discuss the issues. She is also due to seek assurances that passengers travelling over next week's bank holiday weekend will not face similar problems. 

Speaking on RTÉ radio, Kevin Cullinane, the group head of communications for the daa, admitted they had got things “wrong” on Sunday.

The daa has said it is working to ensure queuing times are minimal for passengers but has advised anyone travelling today to allow additional travel time. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
The daa has said it is working to ensure queuing times are minimal for passengers but has advised anyone travelling today to allow additional travel time. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

“Significantly, we did not have sufficient staff manning sufficient posts throughout the airport to cope with demand early on and hence queues built up,” he said.

“We clearly did not have enough lanes open in security from early on this morning, for the numbers who presented themselves at that hour of the morning. And that caused obviously a compounding effect throughout the morning.”

As part of the airport's contingency plans for increased passenger numbers, queueing outside of both terminals was deployed early this morning.

The DAA has said it is working to ensure queuing times are minimal for passengers but has advised anyone travelling today to allow additional travel time.

Mr Cullinane said airlines were providing passengers with the option of booking different flights later on Sunday or Monday, without an additional cost.

Mr Cullinane added that the situation was 'under control' at Terminal 1, but lengthy queues could be expected at Terminal 2 for the next couple of hours. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Mr Cullinane added that the situation was 'under control' at Terminal 1, but lengthy queues could be expected at Terminal 2 for the next couple of hours. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

“We will look at each case on a case-by-case basis but we’ll be doing our level best to make sure that nobody will be out of pocket for missing a flight today as a results of these queues at Dublin Airport.”

Mr Cullinane added that the situation was now “under control” at Terminal 1, but lengthy queues could be expected at Terminal 2 for the next couple of hours.

In a statement issued earlier this morning, a Dublin Airport spokesperson said due to the significant queues inside the terminals, "passengers queuing outside the terminal have been advised they may not make their flight and may need to contact their airline to rebook".

The spokesperson added: "Dublin Airport sincerely apologises for the obvious frustration and inconvenience this is causing."

Passengers have faced lengthy waits and scenes of disorder at Dublin Airport in recent months.

Officials pledged to try to compensate all passengers who have missed flights or had plans disrupted if additional costs are incurred. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Officials pledged to try to compensate all passengers who have missed flights or had plans disrupted if additional costs are incurred. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The airport has previously said it is trying to rebound from the impact of the pandemic and has blamed shortages in fully trained staff working at the country’s busiest airport.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that the delays at Dublin Airport are "not satisfactory" and the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan will be engaging with daa on the issue.

But when asked if the Defence Forces could play a part he said "the Defence Forces have enough to be doing."

Mr Cullinane said there will be an additional 370 security staff in the airport from June.

“Clearly we didn’t have and we still don’t have sufficient numbers to cater for this,” he said.

“We have to put our hands up and say we got that wrong and we wish we had more staff available this morning to rectify that situation quicker than we did.”

'Completely unacceptable'

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke has said that security delays at Dublin Airport are a failure of management and has called on the daa to ensure passengers are compensated, not penalised, for missing their flights as a result of the delays.

The DAA management and line Ministers, Eamon Ryan and Hildegarde Naughton, should appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee to account for the shambles and to outline how they will resolve it, he said.

Mr O'Rourke said: “We have witnessed chaotic scenes at Dublin Airport again today and with the likely consequence of passengers missing their flights. This is completely unacceptable. It is a failure of management. It is a failure to prepare for known demand.” 

“Referring passengers back to their airlines to rebook is an insult. Passengers are set to miss flights through no fault of their own," he said.

“The DAA are responsible for managing the airport and, as such, it is their responsibility to ensure systems are in place to provide for the timely through-put of passengers.

“We are not yet at the height of summer and it is clear contingency plans have failed. Plans A and B have failed. What is Plan C?"

Apologies from the daa are useless if they cannot provide assurances to travellers, the leader of Seanad Eireann has said.

Regina Doherty said “telling passengers to arrive early to ensure access to their flights and then blaming them for turning up too early, thus causing long queues, is the most maddening thing I’ve heard from a State agency”. 

She said people are arriving hours beforehand and yet are still not making their flights, due to the length of the queues inside the terminal. Apologies are meaningless when people have to pay hundreds to rebook flights or else miss out on their long-planned holidays.

“DAA has been aware of the plans of Covid weary travellers for weeks, if not months, and are completely ill-prepared. As the first full summer season of international travel in years begins again, DAA should have put every resource in place to ensure smooth travels for everyone.

“Instead, we are seeing hours-long delays with people having to wait outside the terminal given the length of the queues. The latest statement from DAA is advising people to contact their airlines directly, passing on the baton of responsibility and stress.

“This ‘service’ falls well short of what a well-financed State agency should provide. I know that my colleague Minister Hildegarde Naughton is meeting with the DAA chief executive tomorrow, and I am calling on all parties involved to work together to find a speedy resolution to these issues.”

 - additional reporting from PA

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