Saturday 20 July 2019

Ryanair brands airport bosses 'Keystone Kops' over flight chaos

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

A WAR of words has broken out between airlines and the Dublin Airport Authority over responsibility for yesterday's catalogue of delays and flight cancellations.

Both Aer Lingus and Ryanair rounded on the DAA claiming that their mismanagement of events had led to the problems, in particular due to heavy ice deposits on airside areas and passenger boarding zones that caused serious delays.

Even the French rugby team, flying in for today's international, were reported to have been stuck on the tarmac for an hour because of delays disembarking from their Air France plane.

Ryanair called DAA "the Keystone Kops of airport management" and said they should pay compensation to passengers and airlines over the problems.

"They have repeatedly failed to keep Ireland's gateway airport open. They mismanaged the clearing of the runway yesterday and failed again last night to clear the ramps and aircraft parking areas," said Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara. "The DAA should stop telling lies when today's cancellations and delays are not due to adverse weather but are, in fact, due to the mismanagement and incompetence of the DAA," he said.

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Aer Lingus also called on the DAA "to urgently address the unacceptable condition of the airside areas" which they said had caused ongoing difficulties causing delays and forcing them to cancel some flights.

However, the DAA strongly rejected the criticisms, noting that they were dealing with the worst snowfalls in Dublin for almost 20 years.

"Staff at Dublin Airport have done everything possible during this period to clear the heavy accumulations of snow and hard-packed ice from more than 400 acres of runway and taxiways and 80 aircraft parking stands, each of which is as large as a football field," they said.

A team had worked flat out through the night using 20 specialised vehicles, with contractors also drafted in to help, but temperatures had not risen above freezing until after 10am, meaning it was difficult to clear the ice, a spokesperson said.

Their normal de-icer spray had not worked well with the hard-packed ice, but they had drafted in extra contractors and sand to help resolve the problems which also posed safety risks to staff, she said.

DAA would carry out a review of their procedures as was their normal practice, but noted that airports in Britain and elsewhere were subject to the same problems.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation said they had no role in adjudicating disputes such as this between the DAA and airlines, but would investigate any consumer complaints made to them about airlines failing in their duty of care to supply refunds, refreshments and accommodation, although consumers were obliged to complain to their airline first.

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