Monday 23 October 2017

Passengers in line for 'crazy' airport delays

Security expert calls for more terror checks

A long line of passengers waits to pass through security controls at Barcelona airport. Picture: PA
A long line of passengers waits to pass through security controls at Barcelona airport. Picture: PA

Ryan Nugent

Airline representatives have urged European border controls to introduce an emergency plan to avoid massive queues for passengers at airports this coming weekend.

Irish and British people flying to and from Europe for their summer holidays face the prospect of "devastating" delays due to stricter Schengen area border controls, Europe's largest airline lobby group has warned. Thousands travelling from Spain, Portugal, France and Italy have been hit by lengthy airport queues, with some missing flights over new passport controls.

Aage Duenhaupt, a spokesman for A4E, which represents airlines including BA's owner, International Airlines Group, Ryanair and easyJet, said thousands of flights had already been delayed because of tighter checks at some EU airports.

Mr Duenhaupt said the bank holiday weekend, which is one of the busiest times of the year, could see delays of up to two hours. He noted that for example there were 200,000 passengers arriving in and departing from the Spanish island of Mallorca.

"Unless Spanish border control puts in place an emergency plan to avoid queues and help passengers to get through faster, there will be a lot of devastating delays for passengers," he said. "It's a crazy situation."

Ryanair is now asking its passengers to check in three hours before departure.

Cormac Meehan
Cormac Meehan

Meanwhile, travel agent reps are seeking talks with the Department of Justice over what they claim are "staffing shortages" in Irish airports, causing delays. President of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) Cormac Meehan said a lack of passport control lines which are open for those travellers coming into the country, among other things, are causing problems on the other side.

Read More: Why are there suddenly queues?

Mr Meehan said Terminal One and Terminal Two in Dublin Airport are a particular problem with large queues. He explained the feedback received from customers was there were not enough staff on duty to get them through the passport control. "The ITAA has called for a meeting with the Department of Justice and Equality to get the issue of understaffing at Dublin Airport and other regional and national airports on to the national agenda, given the importance of the sector to the national economy," Mr Meehan said. "Not enough of them are operational."

However, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has insisted there are no delays from its security screening section. A spokesperson said it is usually a 15-minute process going out of the country.

For Irish holidaymakers travelling back into the country, new rules mean name checks against a series of databases are now carried out for those outside of the Schengen border-free area. Mr Meehan said those travelling abroad from Ireland should take out adequate travel insurance and ensure they arrive at airports three hours before their flight.

Meanwhile, a security expert has backed the more stringent security measures implemented across Europe. Tom Clonan said while it's "frustrating and inconvenient, it's necessary".

"People are just going to have to incorporate that into their planning. Islamist extremists have targeted airports in the past. I would prefer to queue for four hours and fly safely. It's better to be safe than sorry."

Irish Independent

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