One month after gala opening Terminal Two is a ghost town
IF A tumbleweed was to roll across the shiny floor at Dublin Airport's newly opened Terminal Two it wouldn't seem out of place.
T2 opened last month to a fanfare of champagne-fuelled celebrations but yesterday the scene was anything but exciting.
The new terminal has nearly 40 shops, a new boarding gate, 25 departure gates and 19 new aircraft parking stands. The price tag came to €609m.
The first impression is one of space and openness. The views are panoramic and the elegant building itself is huge and sweeping, bright and airy and, unfortunately -- quite empty.
Yesterday there were almost as many staff as passengers inside.
Departures was a veritable ghost town with only five check-in desks out of 56 open and a handful of lonely passengers wandering about looking lost as staff smiled benignly at them, disguising the fact they must have been bored to tears.
Upstairs in arrivals, the main restaurant, Oak Tree Cafe, was closed and the empty, large, open-plan seating area overlooking the equally empty departures floor below made for an eerie view.
At the other side of the arrivals floor, Wrights Foodcourt and Diep Noodles were the only eateries open, while Spar was doing a brisk trade.
WHSmith bookshop was devoid of browsers and the staff looked out hopefully at potential customers walking by.
"The airport is not fully operational yet," staff told the Irish Independent. "Bored?" "Not really."
Travel expert Eoghan Corry told the Pat Kenny show yesterday that the new terminal was "a pitiful sight" and retailers were furious about the poor business and slowness of moving flights over.
However, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) rejected this claim.
"We have not received a single significant complaint from a retailer in T2," a spokesman said.
"The DAA detailed the planned transfer of airline operations in mid-November and this remains the position," he said.
The DAA also refused to disclose how many flights a day were operating from the terminal, saying this was a matter for the airlines.
Etihad was already operating their flights from T2 and Aer Lingus was running a number of flights each day in advance of moving their entire operation over on a phased basis from January.
WHSmith said they would not comment on business at their new outlet until their next sales disclosure date.
Coming from the cool vastness of T2, T1 was cramped and over-run with people but the hectic atmosphere was far from unwelcome.
After rattling around T2, T1 was much cosier, busier and had a bit of warmth.
Christmas trees adorned with lights lined the walls and people bustled by, coming and going.
In arrivals, about 25 little Christmas carollers from Scoil Bhride Junior National School Donaghmede, Dublin, sang while decked out in Santa hats and reindeer ears and for all the space-age newness and class of T2, for the moment T1 is the best one to walk into when arriving home for Christmas.