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Dublin Airport security staffing stuck at 70pc of pre-pandemic levels for June bank holiday weekend

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Passengers queuing at Terminal 2, Dublin Airport, on Sunday, May 29. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Passengers queuing at Terminal 2, Dublin Airport, on Sunday, May 29. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Passengers queuing at Terminal 2, Dublin Airport, on Sunday, May 29. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dublin Airport will head into the busy June Bank Holiday with security staff levels at just 70pc of where they were before the pandemic in 2019.

Tensions remain high following a torrid weekend where more than 1,000 people missed flights as queues spilled out of the airport doors.

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It follows weeks of problems at the airport which has blamed lack of staff, among other issues, for long delays at baggage and security queues.

Airport bosses were working late into the night after the Government demanded solutions by this morning.

Dublin Airport officials were told of ministers’ “immense disappointment and frustration” by the scenes over the weekend.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “The answer lies within human resource management within the DAA and planning within the organisation also.”

However, airport officials told the Irish Independent that they are facing a very busy bank holiday weekend with passenger numbers approaching 95pc of pre-pandemic levels.

At the same time staffing levels currently working on security are “probably still somewhere around 70pc” of what they were in 2019 according to Graeme McQueen, media manager at the airport.

He said: “The big problem at the weekend was we had staff absences that knocked us off-course early in the morning. We had to react to that and it was very hard to recover.

“Once you get behind early, the passengers don’t stop coming. We tried our best to catch up, with extended overtime, and called people in. That got us so far, it helped in the afternoon and evening certainly, but the morning was pretty tough... we’re looking at all options to make sure we don’t have a repeat of that.”

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The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) last night said it will “work with all passengers who missed a flight to ensure that they are re-imbursed for out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of missing their flight, such as re-booked flights, extra accommodation, transport costs, etc”.

However, it appears that the cost of missed events, or accommodation that was unused due to travel delays, will not be covered.

Meanwhile, Ryanair and the DAA did not rule out temporary capacity cuts from Dublin.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport asked airlines to cancel flights over a busy weekend in April, while KLM this weekend temporarily halted ticket sales on Amsterdam flights due to overcrowding and staff shortages at that airport.

“A full review of the weekend situation is ongoing,” DAA said.

However, Aer Lingus said: “Capacity cuts and temporary halts on sales are not actions that Aer Lingus is currently considering. Significant planning and effort has gone into restoring Aer Lingus’s capacity to over 90pc of 2019 levels by mid-summer.”

The airline said it was engaging with the DAA after delays caused “considerable disruption” to its schedule, and that it had waived change fees on flights this Sunday to allow customers change travel plans.

Despite the delays, the DAA told the Irish Independent that its advice to passengers remained unchanged – they should arrive up to 2.5 hours before short-haul flights and up to 3.5 hours before long haul departures.

However, it added: “We would also recommend leaving additional time if checking in a bag or if you need to check in for your flight at the airport.”

It said its advice will remain “under continuous review” over the coming days.

The Taoiseach said on arrival at an EU summit: “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.”

He was briefed after a meeting of ministers on the current situation. 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. The answer lies within human resource management within the DAA and planning within the organisation also.”

Paul Hackett, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), branded Sunday’s scenes as “unacceptable”.

“The long queues and extensive wait times add an unnecessary amount of stress and frustration for travellers, some of whom haven’t left the country since the beginning of the pandemic,” he said.

“The disorder at the airport and the continuous delays in the passport offices are contributing to a massive blow for those wishing to travel abroad. I hope this does not become an ongoing issue.”

  • This article was edited on May 31 to reflect that the 70pc staffing level refers to security staff compared to pre-pandemic levels

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