Republic of Ireland news

Passengers braced for further travel chaos

Queues at Dublin Airport were shorter yesterday. Picture from RTÉ

THE operator of Dublin Airport has said it has outlined to Irish Government its plans to manage the passenger queues at the airport this June Bank Holiday weekend and during the busy summer period.

These plans will be communicated in the next 24 hours, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said. 

DAA chief executive Dalton Philips met with Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister of State with responsibility for international transport Hildegarde Naughton and their officials this morning.

The DAA said in a statement that it had sought to reassure ministers on Tuesday morning about their plan to increase the number of security lanes open at peak times.

The DAA also updated the ministers on how Dublin Airport intends to compensate over 1,000 passengers who missed flights last weekend, and said they would “engage” on a daily basis with the Irish Government.

The DAA had been told to report back this morning on how it plans to avoid lengthy queues again.

A spokesman for the operator DAA yesterday apologised for letting "the nation down" after lengthy security queues caused travellers to miss flights.

Passengers queued outside terminal buildings as the airport became overwhelmed on Sunday.

The Republic's Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister of State for International Transport Hildegarde Naughton met DAA representatives yesterday.

Ms Naughton told RTÉ that the meeting was "very frank and robust".

"I can assure you and all the passengers and people listening here that the government is watching this very closely and both myself and minister Ryan have made it clear to the DAA that we must never see a repeat of what happened this weekend," she said.

The DAA's head of communications, Kevin Cullinane, apologised to passengers who missed flights.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Cullinane said the airport is operating on "very fine margins", and is "running to the max" of available staffing levels.

Mr Cullinane said there should be an additional 370 officers by the start of July.

"Yesterday (Sunday) morning when we opened security in terminal one and terminal two, we clearly didn't have enough security lanes open due to resourcing challenges, and at the moment any absenteeism impacts on our ability to operate lanes," he said.

He said the airport did not become aware of the scale of the problem until "literally people report for duty at 3am and 4am".

He said when issues became apparent, the airport did its best to cope.

No queues outside the airport's terminal buildings were reported yesterday.

Extra security lanes were opened to cope with the 45,000 people due to leave from the airport.

Mr Cullinane said all available staff will be working this week and over the bank holiday weekend.

He said a business continuity team will decide if any changes need to be made to the advice to passengers.

"We're conscious that we let ourselves and we let the nation down yesterday, and we certainly don't want to repeat of that on our watch this week," he said.

Mr Cullinane said anyone who is out of pocket because of the queues will be reimbursed as quickly as possible.

"Some of our airline partners are facilitating re-booking on the next available flights free of charge, no additional cost," he said.

"In some instances there may be an additional cost because the airline fare is different but they won't be charged for making that change of booking.

"And in some instances people will have travel insurance that may provide some recompense also."

Customers affected should email customerexperience@dublinairport.com.

It is expected that tens of thousands of northerners will use Dublin airport for their getaways in the next few months.

Meanwhile, carriers and other airports have been struggling to cope with the schedules they have planned.

After grounding dozens of holiday flights over the weekend, particularly to and from London Gatwick, easyJet was forced to do the same yesterday.

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