'deep unhappiness' | 

Transport Minister to meet Dublin Airport operator over wait times

People ‘breaking down in tears’ because they’ve missed their flight – or have the relief of making it

Ciara O'Loughlin and Denise Calnan

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister of State for International Transport Hildegarde Naughton have said Dublin Airport “is falling far short” of the service people expect.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the duo expressed "deep unhappiness" at the situation at Dublin Airport where passengers experienced lengthy queues and waiting times and were warned flights may be missed due to "significant queues".

A meeting between Ms Naughton and Daa Chief Executive Dalton Philips has been brought forward to tomorrow morning.

Ms Naughton said she will seek to get clarity as to the reason’s behind today’s events, and seek assurances that can be provided to passengers ahead of the June bank holiday weekend.

Passengers in Dublin Airport were told this morning they may miss their flights due to “significant queues” for airline check-in, bag drop, and security.

“Dublin Airport is experiencing significant queues for airline check-in, bag drop and security screening this morning as 50,000 passengers are expected to depart over the course of the day,” a Dublin Airport Authority (Daa) spokesperson said.

"Queuing outside both terminals has been deployed since early morning as part of Dublin Airport’s contingency plans for the increased numbers of passengers travelling.

"Due to significant queues inside the terminals, passengers queuing outside the terminal have been advised they may not make their flight and may need to contact their airline to rebook.

"Dublin Airport sincerely apologises for the obvious frustration and inconvenience this is causing,” the spokesperson said.

Some people took to social media to document their experience this morning.

At 10.50am, one Twitter user said he has been queuing for three hours outside the terminal building.

Meanwhile, another person tweeted that people are arriving at boarding gates and “breaking down in tears either because they have missed their flight or from the relief of just making it.”

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Yesterday, 50,000 passengers also departed from Dublin Airport, and although queues were long with passengers reporting it took an hour to get through security, the Daa didn’t tell customers they may miss their flight.

Speaking this afternoon, Dublin Airport’s Group Head of Communications Kevin Cullinane said it is now realistic to arrive at the airport four and a half hours before a long-haul flight, if you have baggage to check in or any queries to make.

He said they were aware it was going to be a “busy weekend” but they are “putting their hands up” and admitting they didn’t have enough resources in place.

“We were trying to gear up… we were aware it was going to be a busy weekend, and next weekend is the Bank Holiday and will be busier,” he told RTÉ Radio One.

“We’re using all available management and staff, frontline and backline, to make sure we have the optimum support.

"But clearly, this morning it wasn’t enough. We have to put our hands up.

”It is not under control in T1, but we still have lengthy queues outside T2.”

He said the Daa are still advising passengers to arrive at the airport two and a half hours before a short-haul flight and three and a half hours before a long-haul flight, but admitted passengers should give another hour if they are dropping bags or need to visit the check-in desk or have queries to make.

When asked if authorities were triaging passengers whose flights were due soon, he replied; “Given the volume of passengers this morning, that’s proving difficult.

"A lot are dependent on the goodwill of passengers… we know one group travelling for a family wedding in Barbados were accommodated by passengers.

"But there are so many people looking to make flights, it’s impossible to get everyone through in a triage fashion.”

He continued: "We have to look at the full causes of why this morning’s queues were as lengthy as they were and will upgrade passenger advice this coming week.

"We assure we have the safety and security of passengers as a priority, we have pedestrianised the zone outside the airport and have airport police and An Garda Siochana also present to make sure it’s a safe environment to queue.

"Taxis are allowed outside the terminal, we have a designated area for all vehicles.”

This comes as Dublin Airport chiefs have promised that passengers will get through security in 30 minutes or less from early June.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, the Daa’s head of communications, Kevin Cullinane, said airport chiefs are days away from fixing some of the problems – although parking is likely to remain an issue for the summer.

“We’re mandated to have security queues of no more than 30 minutes by the Commission for Aviation Regulation. That’s where we want to get back to,” Mr Cullinane said.

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