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Dublin Airport chief flew through VIP service last Saturday as passengers were faced with huge security queues

  • Dalton Philips jetted to Saudi Arabia last Saturday but travelled back that night when delays escalated at Dublin Airport
  • DAA plan to avoid queue chaos this weekend will see passengers who arrive too early be put in holding area
  • Staff from Cork Airport to be redeployed to Dublin
  • Hour-long queues still to be expected, says DAA
  • DAA confident of no repeat of last week

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Long queues leading into Terminal 1 of Dublin Airport last weekend. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Long queues leading into Terminal 1 of Dublin Airport last weekend. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority Dalton Philips arriving at Leinster House, Dublin, to appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee earlier today. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority Dalton Philips arriving at Leinster House, Dublin, to appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee earlier today. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Staff from Cork Airport (pictured) will be redeployed to Dublin Airport this weekend

Staff from Cork Airport (pictured) will be redeployed to Dublin Airport this weekend

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Long queues leading into Terminal 1 of Dublin Airport last weekend. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

DAA chief Dalton Philips flew through the airport's VIP service and queued for less than an hour last Saturday as thousands of customers missed their flights over the weekend.

Asked if he paid for the use of Platinum Service, the airport's VIP offering, Mr Philips told the Oireachtas Transport committee: "I don't personally pay for it, but it's a charge that's made into my travel budget. I would travel many different ways, it's important to go through all parts of the business whether that's the fast track or the normal security, or the platinum services."

The DAA chief flew to Saudi Arabia on Saturday but travelled back that night when the delays escalated in Dublin.

He said he didn't use the VIP service in order to bypass delays at Dublin Airport.

"I normally would travel through the central search or fast track, moving through the two is an opportunity to chat to different officers," he said.

"I certainly wouldn't have gone to the Middle East if I knew this was happening, and that's why I turned back."

Mr Philips said he doesn't use the VIP offering, which brings passengers by chauffeur to the aircraft, that often.

"If there had been an issue, I wouldn't have gotten on the flight. If I had known I would've saved myself the company cost of travelling to the middle east and had I known Sunday was going to be as it was I wouldn't have travelled on Saturday."

Mr Philips was speaking at the Oireachtas Transport Committee, where he apologised “unreservedly” to passengers following the chaotic scenes last weekend.

Mr Philips’s apology came as the DAA outlined plans to ensure the massive queues endured by travellers are not repeated this bank holiday weekend.

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As part of the measures, the DAA will limit access to terminals at Dublin Airport at busy periods to two-and-a-half hours and three-and-a-half hours for short- and long-haul flights as they attempt to avoid further travel chaos over the bank holiday weekend.

Chaos at the airport last weekend saw more than 1,000 people miss their flights last Sunday.

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The DAA’s four-point plan is kicking in on Friday for the Bank Holiday weekend.

Mr Philips said 95pc of people should be through security within 45 minutes but said there will be periods this weekend where people could be queuing for an hour.

"At certain peak points, there may be queuing outside," he added. "This morning we had people outside for 10 minutes, but no one missed their flights."

The DAA chief said it is a possibility that people will be queuing outside in the rain this weekend, which the Committee Chairperson Kieran O'Donnell said is "dreadful".

It is not in the DAA’s plan to use holding areas in the car park this weekend, however, the deputy manager of the DAA said it “is available” if they want to trial it this weekend.

Mr Philips said in his opening statement to the committee: “I would like to take this opportunity to address our passengers directly, and to apologise – unreservedly – to everyone who was impacted by the challenges at Dublin Airport last weekend.

“That experience jars with our tradition of providing a positive passenger experience for our passengers.

“While the past number of weeks have been challenging, I fully appreciate that what our passengers experienced at the airport last weekend fell extremely short of our desired standards. I appreciate the anger, frustration and upset that this has caused.

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Chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority Dalton Philips arriving at Leinster House, Dublin, to appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee earlier today. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority Dalton Philips arriving at Leinster House, Dublin, to appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee earlier today. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority Dalton Philips arriving at Leinster House, Dublin, to appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee earlier today. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

“Put simply, we failed in our duty to our passengers and I want to offer my deep apologies to everyone impacted and indeed to the members of the Oireachtas, as I also recognise the reputational damage to our country for which connectivity and ease-of-access is our lifeblood.”

Mr Philips said no passengers who were affected will be left out of pocket and compensation will be speedy.

The DAA said passengers should expect security queues of around one hour this weekend as it is introducing new measures to avoid further delays.  

A “four-point plan” has been put in place for the June bank holiday weekend. 

This includes more than 40 additional security screening staff (which is a 10pc increase from last weekend) and 10 more security lanes being opened during peak periods. 

As part of new measures that will be introduced over the coming days, passengers arriving too early for their flights will be asked to wait in a passenger holding area instead.

Bad-weather cover, seating and toilets will be put in this holding area, according to the DAA chief, who said this “triage area” will be trialed this weekend.

In order to access the terminals, passengers will be asked to present documentation to indicate departure times, as those who arrive too early may be asked to wait in the holding area. 

Asked if he can guarantee that no passengers will miss their flight this weekend, Mr Philips said: “If passengers heed the two and a half hours I am confident with our plans, we are in a very difficult position. We want people to safely catch their flights. I am giving them a high level of confidence.”

Asked why he couldn’t give a guarantee, Mr Philips said: “Because there are a high range of factors.”

Mr Philips said since recruitment began in 2021, the DAA has recruited over 300 new airport search-unit officers, with 150 officers recruited since the end of April 2022 alone.

“We will bring another 70 officers on board over the coming weeks. DAA has set no upward limit on recruitment numbers,” he added.

“However, given the absolute criticality of security training, the process of on-boarding these new staff cannot be rushed, and while we are making significant progress, it will take us another month before we get the full complement of additional trained security officers deployed on the floor of the airport.”

Mr Philips admitted that the airport’s plan “failed” last Sunday, due to a shortage of staff.

He added that said the “anomaly” of the rostering system, which incorrectly said 17 security staff were finished their training and were working on Sunday, has been fixed and it will not occur again.

Mr Philips said he has submitted a detailed plan to the committee, which will “focus on passenger experience improvements across three core areas, while also introducing new escalation and triage mechanisms in the event of any unanticipated issues arising.”

The committee was told that the DAA is confident there will not be a repeat of last week’s chaos.

Mr Philips also said special consideration will be given to passengers who require additional assistance, such as passengers with autism.

"We are confident, we have a robust plan, and we don’t envisage a repeat of what occurred last Sunday,” he added.

“Though challenges remain, the measures we have taken will very substantially mitigate risk this weekend and beyond.”

He added that the DAA “had a very difficult Sunday” and “let a lot of passengers down”.

This coming Friday will see “very similar numbers” to those of last weekend, but the airport will be “10pc more productive” with more than 40 additional security staff.

"We want all our passengers to have positive experiences, and as the summer seasons ranks up we will drive improvements in our overall service offering,” he added.

Some of the additional security staff are being secured from Cork Airport.

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Staff from Cork Airport (pictured) will be redeployed to Dublin Airport this weekend

Staff from Cork Airport (pictured) will be redeployed to Dublin Airport this weekend

Staff from Cork Airport (pictured) will be redeployed to Dublin Airport this weekend

There will be additional queue management resources in place with a strong garda presence during peak periods, with clear signage and messaging around the airport.

The DAA also insisted it will provide clear, consistent, and continuous messaging for passengers.

As part of the plan to ease delays, the short-term car parks in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, along with the outside queuing areas, will be used as the holding areas for passengers who are too early for their flights, Mr Philips said.

In response to a question by Fianna Fáil TD James O’Connor, Mr Philips said it is not the DAA’s decision to temporarily reroute some flights to other airports, such as Cork Airport, which they also manage.

“The airlines make the choice of where they fly their aircraft, the airport doesn’t. So we don’t direct where an airlines goes through,” he said.

Mr Philips said the offerings of food and beverages in the airport is still an issue, as restaurants and bars are struggling to get staff.

“We have been working with our food and beverage partners. The reality is we haven’t been able to open them all,” he said.

“We will try to make sure that in all the key areas there is something open, but there might not be the full offering that passengers expect.”

By the end of June, the DAA chief said the 535 security staff working in Terminal 1 and 2 will be increased to 702.

Mr Philips wouldn’t admit that they “cut too deep” when letting staff go during the pandemic, and that it wasn’t anticipated that air travel would return to the levels that it has since March.

“We are 60 security officers behind where we need to be,” he said. “We will have 40 more officers this weekend, we will have brought staff up from Cork.”


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