Sunday 27 May 2018

Failure to track shop supplies at airport will cause traveller misery

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

A FAILURE to track food, equipment and supplies going into Dublin Airport will cause misery for thousands of travellers this summer.

The Irish Independent has learned that security concerns have nothing to do with passengers, but instead relate to goods being brought into the airport for sale in shops and restaurants.

But the breach of EU regulations was enough for inspectors to blacklist Dublin Airport until the problem is sorted.

It means passengers flying out of Dublin with an onward connection will have to go through another set of security checks at the airport where they change flights.

While there is no immediate threat to passenger safety, it is understood the authorities knew about the problem up to six weeks ago and it will take as long as two months to resolve it.

In the meantime, the EU Commission has taken formal action that has hammered Dublin Airport's reputation.

Up to 7pc of all passengers using the airport, which carried more than 18 million passengers last year, change flights after their initial departure from Dublin, and will therefore be affected by the new measures.

This will require them to be rescreened for security clearance as they pass through a second airport on their way to a final destination.

Aircraft arriving from Dublin may also be searched.

Dublin was the first airport tested for compliance by European security chiefs under the rules. Passengers leaving Cork and Shannon are not affected.

And in a further embarrassment, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar yesterday admitted that his department would have to recruit staff because it did not have enough people in place to ensure that anti-terrorist security measures were being properly enforced.

"It may be necessary to hire or contract staff in my own department because my department is responsible for aviation security and we're very short staffed in that area," he said.

Breaches

Rules introduced in 2008 require all airports in EU member states to use the same security procedures and systems. Inspectors from the EU Commission carry out random audits, and arrived in Dublin six weeks ago.

They found two breaches of the rules, but officials refused to explain the lapses on security grounds. One was rectified shortly after being identified, but the second will take another two months to fix.

The Irish Independent has learned that auditors found that rules on compiling data on the sources of supplies were not tight enough to ensure that items going into the airport did not pose a security risk.

"It's the way in which supplies entering the airport are screened. It's the process," one source said yesterday.

The EU Commission said that any security breaches affected all member states.

"You can't have weak links in the chain," a spokeswoman said.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary criticised the Department of Transport for only alerting airlines to the problem yesterday morning.

"If it was a minor issue it would be fixed quicker than two months," he added.

"This is an extraordinarily serious failure."

Irish Independent

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