Travel chaos | 

Michael O’Leary demands urgent action as drone disrupts Dublin Airport flights for sixth time

The Ryanair chif called on Eamon Ryan to take immediate action on the drone problems or resign

A warning sign against the use of drones on the perimeter fencing at Dublin airport (Niall Carson/PA)© Niall Carson

Dublin Airport

Stock image© Getty Images

Allison Bray and Eoghan

All flights in and out of Dublin airport were temporarily suspended this evening after an illegal drone was spotted near the airport, bringing the runway traffic to a halt.

Three flights were diverted to Shannon and Belfast as a result of the disruption.

Michael O’Leary issued a plea to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to sort the issue or resign as “it’s the sixth drone closure we have had in five weeks”.

In a video posted by the Ryanair boss online this evening, Mr O’Leary said: “It’s unacceptable. Three flights have been diverted to Shannon and Belfast this evening while our minister for transport sits on his hands doing nothing. He will be out tomorrow telling people that he’s going to have more meetings – he has had loads of meetings in the last six weeks – meanwhile, Dublin Airport is the most disrupted airport by drones in Europe.

"It’s unacceptable, that we have the incompetent minister for transport, who has done nothing for five weeks, to protect Dublin Airport from these drone strikes.

"I want to apologise to our passengers that have been diverted this evening and I would call on them to write to Eamon Ryan to call for him to stop holding meetings and to stop talking about acting and have actual action.

"Minister Ryan, it’s time to stop talking, stop sitting on your hands and do something useful for Irish transport.”

It is illegal to fly a drone within 5km of the airport, and it is unclear how close the latest drone was to the airport in north Dublin.

Graeme McQueen, spokesman for airport operator daa, said the drone was spotted at 6.27pm this evening, forcing the airport authority to immediately shut down the only functioning runway for safety reasons.

Flights resumed around 7pm after the short delay, Dublin Airport confirmed. It added that three flights had to be “diverted as a result of this reckless and illegal activity of flying a drone within 5km of Dublin Airport”.

“Dublin Airport has effective drone detection technology. However the State should introduce technology to signal-jam or bring down drones safely and increase the maximum sentences for people who fly drones illegally within 5km of Irish airports,” the Dublin Airport Twitter account said.

However, the suspension caused travel chaos for passengers attempting to depart or arrive at Ireland’s busiest airport.

Similar disruption has occurred several times in recent weeks over the flying of unmanned craft, known as drones.

Airlines including Ryanair have called for the transport minister to take immediate action to implement a system that prevents drones from flying near the airport as it costs the industry millions.

Passengers vented their frustration this evening.

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