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Dublin Airport refuses Ryanair call for all security lanes to be open for Christmas rush

Mr O’Leary had said that all 14 security lanes at Terminal 1, which it uses, should be staffed around the clock this Christmas

DAA insists it will be able to handle passenger numbers over Christmas. Photo: Damien Storan/PA© PA

Senan Molony, Political CorrespondentIndependent.ie

Dublin Airport management has refused a Ryanair request that it open all security lanes at Terminal 1 throughout the Christmas period.

It says it will make up its own mind on passenger throughput and the channels needed as a particular day develops.

And despite Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warning that he expects passenger numbers to be 13pc up on 2019 levels, Dublin Airport operator DAA believes the number of passengers will be similar, not higher.

Catherine Gubbins, interim chief executive of the DAA, said: “While some individual airlines may be slightly above or below their respective 2019 passenger levels, we do not expect passenger numbers to be considerably in excess of 2019 levels during the period overall.”

She says in a letter to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport: “In order to determine the number of security lanes that will ultimately be required within its security screening areas at any given point in time, Dublin Airport looks at detailed hour-by-hour passenger forecasts for both Terminals 1 and 2.

“On this basis, the number of lanes which are open in each of the terminals during any given day varies continuously, subject to the level of passenger demand expected.

“It is therefore not necessary or efficient to have all security lanes in the terminals open at all times.”

Mr O’Leary had said that all 14 security lanes at Terminal 1, which it uses, should be staffed around the clock this Christmas.

He told the committee: “We are concerned that there may be security shortages and staffing shortages this Christmas, and if they don’t recruit now in significant numbers.

“They’re talking actually about taking out existing lanes to put in 3D scanners which will reduce security capacity at Dublin Airport. If you’re going to put in 3D scanners, they need to be as additional lanes.

“We’re not out of the woods yet and we are very concerned about the Dublin Airport staffing this Christmas.”

His evidence to the committee prompted chairman Kieran O’Donnell to urgently seek the input of the DAA. Ms Gubbins’ letter in reply has been seen by Independent.ie.

She acknowledged the challenges experienced at Dublin Airport earlier this year, but says the airport has delivered “strong and stable” performances on passenger wait times at security screening over the past six months.

“During each month since July, more than 97pc of all passengers queued for 30 minutes or less,” she wrote.

She said last month 90pc of all passengers queued for 20 minutes or less.

In total, since June, almost 17 million passengers have been processed through the airport “without any notable security-related challenges”, Ms Gubbins said.

“Our full focus is now on continuing to build on this strong performance over the busy Christmas period ahead.”

A “significant” amount of planning and preparation is ongoing at the airport with a view to ensuring sufficient processing capacity will be in place to meet expected passenger demand during peak times, she added.

She said from December 15 to January 10 the DAA expects the airport to remain busy, with “total passenger numbers on par with the levels served during the same period in 2019”.

“The DAA also remains in continuous contact with our airline partners with respect to their forecasted passenger numbers for the Christmas period,” she said.

She said the recruitment of security staff has continued in recent months.

Dublin Airport expects to have 645 security staff during the month of December, broadly in line with overall staffing levels at the airport in 2019.

The vast majority of these will be available to the operation, with a small cohort undergoing training, Ms Gubbins said.

During peak times there will also be overtime incentives offered to security staff, as well as the deployment of non-frontline staff and managers as needed.

“On this basis, we anticipate that…Dublin Airport will experience a busy but successful operation over the Christmas period.”

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