Dublin Airport’s new anti-drone technology is unlikely to be ready for the busy Easter period.
Ryanair this morning urged Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and airport operator DAA to confirm that the technology is “in place and fully ready to operate” over Easter.
Almost half-a-million people are expected to pass through the airport over the Bank Holiday weekend – and it would take just one drone flying illegally to cause disruption for thousands.
Dublin Airport was closed six times due to illegal drone activity in the first eight weeks of the year, causing diversions and delays for thousands of passengers.
DAA has since purchased drone-disabling equipment and has been training firefighters in its use; however, the technology is unlikely to be rolled out this weekend.
A DAA spokesperson said: “Dublin Airport has recently purchased additional operationally-proven counter-drone technology and members of the fire service at Dublin Airport have been trained in its use.”
“We are currently working through regulatory approvals before we are allowed use it,” they said.
Labour's Transport spokesperson Duncan Smith told Newstalk a clear timeline for the rollout is needed.
“I’m calling on Minister Ryan to give a detailed timeline as to when this technology will be up and running and give further detail as to who will be controlling and operating this technology,” he said.
“We need to know when it is going to be in place and we can’t just let this drift further and further into the high season.”
“That would be an intolerable situation.”
Deputy Smith said it is still unclear who will ultimately be in charge of the technology.
“The hold-up, as I see it now, is that there is concern over which body would control the drone technology,” he said.
“Would it be the DAA, would it be the Defence Forces, would it be An Garda Síochána?
“This is the delay that is holding up the provision of this drone technology.”
He said the technology must be rolled out as soon as possible before the summer season.
“We had St Patrick’s Day where activity in the airport increased,” he said.
“We now have Easter, it is going to get busier again and then we are going to go into the summer and, gradually, activity is going to ramp up and up and up.
“It is vitally important that we have this anti-drone technology in as quickly as possible so, we’re deeply frustrated that we have no clarity from the minister.”
A Ryanair spokesperson said the drone disruption early this year was “unacceptable”.
“Transport Minister Eamon Ryan promised to protect passengers with anti-drone equipment, so he must now confirm that this equipment is in place and fully operational at Dublin Airport in advance of the busy Easter holidays,” they said.