There's little sign of holiday spirit at eerily quiet Dublin Airport

The deserted terminal

Melanie Finn

RTÉ footage of tanned holiday-makers landing back into Dublin Airport at the height of Level 5 lockdown restrictions may have sparked outrage on social media this week.

But yesterday the airport resembled the Mary Celeste and there was little sign of joviality among the passengers.

Those who were making their way through Dublin Airport were mainly lone travellers, heads down and face masks evident, as they moved quickly through the terminal buildings.

Understandably very few were willing to talk about where they were going or the country they had come from and their reasons for travelling here.

There were very few queues for any of the departing flights and a straight walk through to security.

There was an eerie quiet in the terminal buildings, which are devoid of the usual excited chatter of people reuniting or gangs of pals heading off on a fun-filled weekend away.

Once a thriving, economic hub for this country, it's hard to believe that the north Dublin airport handled 32.9 million passengers in 2019.

One woman who was travelling with her four- and six-year-old daughters explained she was flying to Spain for essential purposes, to meet their father as he was over there working.

She said she chose to fly with Iberia as unlike other airlines they didn't serve food on the plane and that made her feel safer during the trip.

On the way into Terminal 1, gardaí have set up a checkpoint and were stopping every vehicle on the road.


At one point, a double-decker Expressway from Letterkenny arrived at the terminal carrying just two passengers and the driver was stopped for a quick chat with gardaí.

The mood was sombre and it felt like nobody really wanted to be there.

Siobhán O'Donnell of the Dublin Airport Authority said it was hard to see a once-vibrant business utterly wiped out with a 94pc drop in passenger numbers.

"I'm there 37 years this year and it's hard to get your head around it," she said.

As for the Prime Time segment, she said anecdotal evidence suggested those travelling for non-essential purposes were "quite sporadic" which is borne out in the figures themselves.