Ireland

‘Holding area’ among measures to manage queues at Dublin Airport this summer

Lengthy queues outside Dublin Airport last weekend. Airport bosses have been told by the government to publish plans to manage the increase in traveller numbers this summer. Picture: RTÉ
Lengthy queues outside Dublin Airport last weekend. Airport bosses have been told by the government to publish plans to manage the increase in traveller numbers this summer. Picture: RTÉ

A “holding area” may be needed for passengers who arrive earlier than the recommended time during extremely busy periods this summer, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has said.

DAA chief executive Dalton Philips told the Oireachtas Transport Committee that this protocol is in place in order to “triage access” to the terminals during busy periods, but that they do not expect to have that in place this coming bank holiday weekend.

He said that some of the short-term car parks in both terminals, as well as the space where queues formed outside the terminals, are among the spaces that may be used as holding areas.

“At times when the terminals get particularly busy, we may triage access to the terminals and control entry into the terminal, based on the departure time of flights if necessary. A protocol for the deployment of this is in place.

“For departing passengers, access to the appropriate terminals will be controlled and will require the presentation of documentation indicating the time of flight such as a booking confirmation or boarding card.”

Passengers are recommended to arrive at least 2.5 hours before short-haul flight departures, and 3.5 hours before long-haul flights depart.

“DAA will put in place bad weather cover, seating and toilets in the holding area as quickly as possible in the coming days following trialling of this system over the June bank holiday weekend.”

He said that “special consideration” will be given to those passengers who require special assistance, such as people with autism, Mr Philips told the committee.

Mr Philips said that things will be managed differently this weekend and beyond, and that the airport is “focused on a better passenger experience”.

There would be 10% more staff this weekend compared with last weekend, he added.

The DAA will try to maximise the availability of staff resources, increase the number of security lanes open at peak times, and improve queue management.

“Following these incremental measures, we are confident we have a robust plan and we do not envisage a repeat of what occurred last Sunday.

“And, should unanticipated issues arise, we have appropriate escalation and triage mechanisms focused on ensuring no passengers will miss their flights.”

Mr Philips said that the quick recovery of the aviation industry following the pandemic, new EU rules requiring enhanced background checks of airport staff, and “exceptional levels of absence” due to Covid-19, had resulted in passenger delays at the airport.

Mr Philips told TDs and Senators that he understood the “anger frustration and upset” among passengers over the scenes at the airport last weekend, and apologised “unreservedly” for the long queues and delays.