Dublin Airport security waiting times ‘can be slashed to 15 minutes’ if airport charges increase, says new boss

Kenny Jacobs also hopes for new routes to Brazil and China

Kenny Jacobs pictured in Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport. Photo: Gerry Mooney

John Mulligan

DUBLIN Airport boss Kenny Jacobs says security waits can be slashed as low as 15 minutes – but only if airport charges are hiked.

Mr Jacobs, who took over as chief executive of the Daa in January this year, spoke to Independent.ie about the challenges and opportunities facing the airport this summer.

This time last year, passengers were forced to join queues up to a kilometre long that snaked down Dublin Airport’s entrance road.

Dublin Airport was later penalised €3.1m by the Commission for Aviation Regulation for failing to meet quality-of-service targets during the second quarter of last year.

“Ultimately what we’re trying to do here is have a resilient airport,” said Mr Jacobs (49) in his first in-depth interview since taking over the role.

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One of the key things he wants is to cut the security clearance time for passengers from a target of 20 minutes to 15.

“To do that we need additional staff, and to have additional staff we need a higher charge,” said Mr Jacobs, pointing out that the maximum passenger charge Dublin Airport can levy this year is 30pc lower than in 2019 in real terms.

“In that same timeframe, air fares have gone up 30pc. Nothing is cheap in Ireland. Nothing is cheap in Dublin.

"The average European capital city airport charge is north of €18 [per passenger]. The max Dublin charge is €8.50. That really doesn’t allow us to give the type of service that we want to have,” he added.

He insisted families should not be unnecessarily stressed out when going on holidays.

“We want to put the smile back on those faces, take away the hassles that existed last year and the anxiety of travel – we want to reduce that.”

But airlines, including Ryanair and Aer Lingus – Dublin Airport’s two biggest customers – think passenger charges are too high and baulk at the notion that the DAA should be allowed to levy more.

Mr Jacobs has previously stated that changes in passenger charges “have virtually no impact” on the price of airline tickets.

Ryanair, which this summer is operating its biggest ever schedule out of Dublin, has warned against charges going any higher at Dublin. The airline and Aer Lingus have joined a High Court case where the DAA is seeking a judicial review of the charges.

Mr Jacobs, the former chief marketing officer at Ryanair, has had a busy few months since he took over the new role.

There has been drone activity at the airfield that caused flight diversions and disrupted thousands of passengers; a Ryanair plane suffered a landing gear collapse; US president Joe Biden visited Ireland, necessitating a huge security operation at Dublin Airport; and controversy over flight paths for Dublin Airport’s new runway.

Kenny Jacobs pictured at the new passenger security screening facility in Terminal 1 in Dublin Airport. Photo: Gerry Mooney

At its busiest in the coming months, more than 100,000 passengers a day will pass through Dublin Airport’s doors.

And yesterday Dublin Airport warned that parking will be “extremely limited” this weekend, with car parks already sold out as the busy summer season begins. The airport has advised people travelling to consider using alternative modes of transport to travel to and from the airport. It said both short-term and long-term car parks are sold out and expected to be full in the upcoming days. The number of parking spaces is still reduced by 20pc due to Quick Park’s 6,200 spaces being out of action.

While the DAA is planning to expand Terminal 1, Mr Jacobs insists there’s no need for a third terminal at Dublin Airport anytime soon. Dublin Airport is likely to be handling 40 million passengers a year by the end of the decade.

And the airport is likely to have a direct connection to China again by the end of this year, according to Mr Jacobs.

“A direct route into China, other places in Asia, India, and South America would be top of my long-haul list,” he said.

The 2016 census showed almost 14,000 Brazilians living here, while the Brazilian embassy in Ireland reckoned in 2021 that there were 70,000 at that stage on the island.

“Dublin-Sao Paulo would be a massively exciting route,” according to Mr Jacobs, who added that the DAA has already held informal talks with Latam, the Latin American airline.

“With close to 100,000 Brazilians here and they’re currently flying to Lisbon to go to Sao Paulo and get home, would that fill a weekly frequency? It absolutely would.”

He added: “I’d be surprised if Dublin to China doesn’t operate quite soon. I think this year.

“The Chinese government are keen to reconnect with the world. I think we can see that one definitely operate before the end of the year.”

That service is likely to operate to either Beijing or Shanghai and scheduled two or three times a week initially.