Ireland could lose its US pre-clearance programme if the issues at Dublin Airport are not addressed, according to an aviation expert.
It comes after a group of North American airlines wrote to the Transport Minister Eamon Ryan demanding action on delays and issues at the country’s main airport.
The group which includes American Airlines, Delta, United and Air Canada said a large proportion of their flights were delayed leaving Dublin – and warned that the situation was damaging travellers' impression of Ireland, the airport and the airlines.
They also complained that their premium business class passengers were being forced to join the general security queue despite paying large sums of money for fast track.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Kevin Byrne, retired lieutenant colonel and airport security auditor, said the delays could end up seriously harming the Irish economy.
He said 1.9 million American’s visited Ireland in 2019 – spending no less than €1.7bn.
He said US pre-clearance is a big selling point for Ireland – and the situation could the programme removed.
“That is something we should not forgo,” he said. “Other countries really want it in different parts of Europe and the Middle East and they’re prepared to pay for it.
“We could see that in some danger if we don’t improve matters fairly quickly.”
He said the only way airport operator DAA will fully address its security staffing issues is by raising rates of pay.
“It is like any organisation; you have to pay for what you get,” he said.
“So, if you are on minimum wage maybe you could increase that by a little bit because it’s a real problem
“But also, the people who used to come from Eastern Europe have gone back home and they haven’t come back here yet because the cost of living in Ireland has become so expensive so we just can’t get them in that regard.”
The retired lieutenant colonel said the operator must announce a clear date for the return of Fast Track services – noting that, if DAA can’t hire enough staff, it can reallocate them from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2.
He said he believes there is a “lack of enthusiasm” abut air travel among some Cabinet ministers “who think the American numbers can swim here or get here by ferry boat.”
“That’s just not the case. We have to have a little input from the top as well as the operator of the airport.
The US airlines have requested a meeting with Minister Ryan to discuss their concerns.
You can listen back to Mr Byrne here: