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No accountability over Dublin Airport chaos



Passengers queue to get into the Departures at Terminal 2 of Dublin Airport on Sunday. Photo: Collins

Passengers queue to get into the Departures at Terminal 2 of Dublin Airport on Sunday. Photo: Collins

Passengers queue to get into the Departures at Terminal 2 of Dublin Airport on Sunday. Photo: Collins

Travel, we are told, is the one thing you can spend your money on that makes you richer. But the Dublin Airport experience has been anything but enriching of late.

The Government has tried to keep itself at arm’s length from the chaos that saw more than 1,000 people miss their flights.

When people are massively and unacceptably inconvenienced then there has to be accountability.

How could the Dublin Airport Authority ( DAA) not know the airport would be busy in the last weekend of May? After all many in the country have not had the opportunity to take a break in three years.

When an explanation is unsatisfactorily incomplete, it rapidly runs the risk of becoming an extension of the wrong already inflicted.

So for the airport not to be able to rule out further chaotic scenes, as we move towards the bank holiday weekend and beyond, is troubling. Unless confidence is restored problems will persist.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Junior Minister Hildegarde Naughton have both demanded reassurances by today.

But the Government itself cannot simply step away from the heat. It is ultimately responsible for the DAA. Some degree of control was re-established yesterday. But no degree of doubt is tolerable in the realms of international travel. The authority has ready access to information on daily comings and goings so being unable to provide staff numbers to meet entirely predictable demand is indefensible.

The DAA has said it will compensate passengers who missed flights. But far more precise detail is needed. For example many will have lost precious days of their longed-for holidays. They also may have hired cars and paid for hotels. None of the disruption was their fault: so there is no reason why they should be out of pocket. A spokesman for the authority has accepted that: “We let ourselves down and we let the nation down, and we certainly don’t want a repeat of that on our watch this week.”

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The staffing shortage that caused the problems was self-inflicted and completely preventable.

The airport says it is operating on “fine margins” as far as staffing is concerned, but this is intolerable. This can only be accounted for by poor ­planning or bad decision-making.

Should there be a repeat of the misery visited on passengers over the past weeks, someone other than the public, and the taxpayer must be made pay. Ms Naughton has spoken of her “immense disappointment and frustration,” at the situation.

Making sure it doesn’t happen again would be more productive. According to Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

The eyes of weary travellers were certainly opened by their unwelcome recent experience. It can only be hoped the same can be said for those of the minister and the DAA. To travel hopefully is supposed to be better than to arrive. But the maxim was never intended to be taken literally, or applied to flight schedules.

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