Dublin Airport Authority reveals exactly what it will refund passengers for, after missed flights debacle

DAA said it will refund all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, but will not pay for missed holidays or eventsRyanair CEO says far more than 1,000 people stated by DAA missed flights, and calls for army to be drafted in to deal with security queuesTaoiseach says Government wants ‘very clear plan’ from DAA on ‘unacceptable’ situationMicheál Martin discounts army suggestion

Passengers queue in the walkway into departures at Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath.

Ryan Nugent, Ciara O'Loughlin, Eoghan Moloney, Laura Lynott, John Downing

Dublin Airport Authority has said it will refund passengers who missed flights on Sunday for all “reasonable out-of-pocket expenses” incurred.

As the expenses the DAA will reimburse passengers for was revealed, the airport authority will not, however, be covering the costs of missed holidays or events.

DAA said it “apologises unreservedly to the more than 1,000 passengers who missed their flight” on Sunday morning as a result of queues at Dublin Airport.

Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson earlier indicated that close to 1,500 Ryanair passengers alone missed flights in Dublin on Sunday due to the queues, with some passengers reporting missing flights despite being at the airport five hours in advance of their departure time.

DAA it will work with all passengers who missed a flight to ensure that they are reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses, including re-booked flights, extra accommodation, transport costs and more.

“In the first instance, impacted passengers are urged to contact Dublin Airport's Customer Experience Team via customerexperience@dublinairport.com, who will respond with a claim form that will need to be completed and returned, along with receipts for reasonable, out-of-pocket expenses.

“DAA thanks passengers in advance for their patience as we deal with a large volume of correspondence from the past few days,” a spokesperson said.

Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton told DAA chiefs on Monday she wants an actionable plan on her desk on Tuesday morning which sets out how DAA will avoid such queues and chaos in the future.

DAA told Independent.ie it was in the process of forming such a plan on Monday evening but would not reveal any details.

The airport authority let roughly 1,000 staff go during the pandemic via redundancy packages but Ryanair’s Mr Wilson said DAA should’ve anticipated the surge.

The Government told the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) that they have until tomorrow to come up with a plan to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s chaos ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton held crunch talks with DAA boss Dalton Philips and his management team this morning.

Ms Naughton also met with airlines on Monday afternoon.

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It has also been confirmed that DAA chief executive Dalton Philips will appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee on Wednesday to discuss the airport crisis.

Ms Naughton said both she and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan will be holding daily meetings with the DAA in light of the crowd chaos seen on Saturday and Sunday.

Minister Naughton said she was “angry and frustrated” about what happened at the weekend.

“I have instructed that a plan is to be issued to me in the morning. How will they address this issue and ensure people get through security and don’t miss their flight,” Minister Naughton told RTÉ.

“The reason outlined today was in relation to staff and people being out sick, but my focus today wasn’t about excuses - they are no different to every other business or sector across the country that have to deal with people being out sick… it’s up to the DAA to be able to manage that,” Minister Naughton said.

“They dealt with this in the past, back in March, they got ahead of the queues. What happened at the weekend was totally unacceptable. To have young children and elderly people queuing for hours - you’d want to be in the full of your health to do that”.

Michael Kilcoyne, chairman of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland, said Government has to take responsibility for the chaos at Dublin Airport at the weekend and said the positions of those on the board of the Daa should be considered.

Mr Kilcoyne said the Government appoints staff to the board of DAA and therefore needs to take responsibility for the calamity that saw over 1,000 people miss flights at the weekend.

He said he was “amused” listening to the minister demand plans and explanations from the DAA but said she “had to accept responsibility” for what was a “pure disaster” in Dublin Airport.

“Some people were there five and six hours before [their flight] but still couldn't get through. Dublin Airport have admitted it was their responsibility but these people have to be compensated,” Mr Kilcoyne said, voicing concerns that the DAA have not confirmed what compensations will be proffered.

Eddie Wilson, CEO of Ryanair, said the issues at the airport were simply down to staffing and he couldn’t understand how they weren’t pre-empted. Mr Wilson also contradicted Daa claims that 1,000 passengers missed flights as he said 1,500 Ryanair customers missed their flight out of Dublin yesterday alone. That was approximately one in 16 of all Ryanair passengers missing their flight on Sunday.

“We flew just over half a million people across Europe yesterday, about 530,000 people, 25,000 of those were scheduled to go through Dublin Airport departures and about 1,500 of those missed their flight,” Mr Wilson told Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio One.

“Close to 1,500 [Ryanair passengers] missed their flight yesterday. We would be the largest airline in Dublin Airport but yeah, close to 1,500,” Eddie Wilson said.

"We need the Army there…the Army has already got security clearance, and to have additional bodies on the ground either for queuing or for pat-down at security points.

"And then people will build up confidence... it's just a simple resourcing issue, and people generally will respond to a number of days where there are no queues at the airport".

"The airports have the schedule, and we are 90pc - and shortly to be 95pc - full as we go through the summer months.

"It's not unexpected for the airports, that isn't the issue - the issue is just simply not gearing up in time post-Covid and planning for the recovery and having people ready to man the security points.

"It's just a simple staffing issue, it's as simple as that,” Mr Wilson said.

In a statement the Department of Transport said the ministers expressed disappointment at the situation which saw more than 1,000 passengers miss their flights on Sunday, and told the DAA the chaos has caused the country reputational damage.

It added that daily meetings will be held at ministry level with the DAA until the problems are resolved.

"The Ministers said that the excessively long queues and wait times were causing significant distress to passengers as well as reputational damage to the country from a business, travel, connectivity and tourism point of view,” the statement read.

“The Ministers have instructed DAA to report back by tomorrow morning on solutions that can be put in place in advance of this bank holiday weekend to deliver an acceptable passenger experience for citizens and visitors departing from the airport. The Ministers have asked DAA to consider all options that can be taken in immediate and medium term to resolve this matter.

"The Ministers stated that the unacceptable queues should not be repeated this Thursday and Friday and into the Bank Holiday weekend and that intending passengers should be confident that they would make their flight with minimum inconvenience,” it added.

Dublin Airport estimates that at least 1,000 people missed flights yesterday due to massive queues outside Terminal 1 and 2 yesterday.

In Brussels, the Taoiseach said the Government wants a clear plan from Dublin Airport to ensure gigantic queues and long delays in accessing boarding gates doesn't happen again.

"It is unacceptable what has happened, and it is not good enough," Mr Martin said on arrival at an EU summit.

"People should not be treated in that way. There will be daily meetings between Department of Transport and the DAA. The Government is looking for a very clear plan to ensure that this type of thing doesn't happen again. It has to be done now to improve the operational efficiency at Dublin Airport.”

Micheál Martin was briefed after a meeting of ministers on the current situation, having spoken to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan this morning and learned of a meeting with junior minister Hildegarde Naughton's with management.

Asked if the army should be involved, the Taoiseach appeared to rule it out, saying that the DAA "needs to develop the capacity very quickly to deal with this”.

He stressed: "As I said, the answer lies within human resource management within the DAA and planning within the organisation also."

Communications chief at the airport Kevin Cullinane admitted they had let the country down yesterday amid chaotic scenes, and vowed they will compensate those affected.

"We will recompense anyone who was out of pocket because of yesterday's queues,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

He added that extra security lanes were opened this morning to deal with queues.

It’s understood that queues moving efficiently for security in both T1 and 2 this morning.

Around 45,000 passengers are due to pass through the airport today.

Some passengers slept in Dublin Airport overnight to make sure they caught their flight.

Sinead Ní Riain, who is from Galway but lives in Boston, stayed in Terminal 2 overnight out of worry that she could miss her long-haul flight to the States today.

The passenger wasn’t the only one with this idea. Ms Ní Riain said there were about 100 other people sleeping in the terminal, with the Wrights food court “full of sleepers”.

“[There were] easily over 100 people that I saw [sleeping], some people were just laying across the high stools for some comfort,” she said.

“I saw some people huddled under stairways too, a grim situation for everyone but I really felt for the families who had young kids and they were trying to find a safe spot for them all to get some rest.

“This situation shows how behind Dublin airport is compared to other international airports that can provide sleep pods for people and rest/ wash areas.”

It come as holidaymakers hoping to jet off over the June Bank Holiday weekend may be told to arrive even earlier at Dublin Airport after airport bosses admitted they don’t know what caused the chaos.

Passengers were forced to queue for hours outside both terminals from early yesterday morning, with many missing their flights as a result.

With more than 100,000 passengers due to pass through the airport next weekend, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said it will today review how the crisis unfolded.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said that 1,000 people missing their flights was "totally unacceptable".

"You can't have thousands of people out queueing outside the terminal buildings," Mr Ryan added.

"They have acknowledged that, they accepted it was a terrible failing and we have to address and they have to address it.

"It's an operational issue for the airport, it's a complex issue about a sudden very large increase in demand for people flying but at the same time real difficulty in getting the number of people, skilled workers, particularly in the scanning/screening area.

"We said they have to deliver those solutions, they have to come back with options so that what happened doesn't happen again."

Mr Ryan said the reason for the delay was due to a shortage of key staff in key areas.

"Once you go over certain tipping point then queues does tend to back up, then it makes it more difficult to catch up," he added.

"Whatever the reason, they have to make sure they are able to manage numbers."

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

Mr Ryan said that while compensation was an issue for Dublin airport authority, they were aware that the reputational damage to the airport and country is "very real".

"This has been issue they have been grappling with for many weeks" he added.