Business Irish

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Airport security delays up three fold

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary warned that the airline faces possible Easter disruption
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary warned that the airline faces possible Easter disruption
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Tougher airport security resulted in a tripling of flight delays last summer and there have been calls for improved staffing and infrastructure to tackle the issue this summer.

Industry body Airlines for Europe (A4E), whose members include Aer Lingus owner IAG, Ryanair and Lufthansa, urged EU states at its annual meeting in Brussels yesterday to "do more" to alleviate the problem.

"With the busy summer travel season ahead of us, we need to learn from last year's unacceptable experience - specifically at EU borders, where insufficient infrastructure and understaffing led to an increase of up to 300pc in flight delays at some airports, causing up to 5pc of passengers per day to miss their connecting flights," said A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert.

He said that Europe's air traffic control staffing also needs to be beefed up to reduce delays in the skies, pointing out that while air traffic in Europe increased 4.4pc last year, the average daily delay minutes in the region's air traffic control system rose by 6.9pc.

A4E also pleaded with the European Union to "significantly strengthen" economic regulation of major European airport monopolies by "prioritising the interests of consumers".

Mr Reynaert said he welcomed the European Commission's decision to review its airport charges directive, which A4E claimed had been poorly implemented.

Speaking at the A4E meeting, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary again warned that the airline faces possible Easter disruption as talks with unions in Ireland and Portugal continue.

"We are very close to concluding agreements in Spain and Italy and expect them to be finalised within the next month," Mr O'Leary said.

"We're not making as much progress in other countries, most notably Ireland and in Portugal. We expect some disruptions, possibly over Easter, maybe over the summer period," he added.

Ryanair's chief operations officer Peter Bellew said in Berlin yesterday that Ryanair expected to achieve a collective wage agreement in Germany over the coming months.

He'll meet German pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit next week.

Mr O'Leary also welcomed a long-awaited agreement between Ryanair and Aer Lingus that will see the pair offer connecting flights on each other's services.

"I would hope that at some stage next summer, you will see us feeding Aer Lingus's transatlantic flights out of Dublin, and once we've done it once, I think we will provide a significant feed to lots of long-haul airlines," he said. (Additional reporting: Reuters)

Irish Independent

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