Passengers who arrive too early for flights out of Dublin Airport this holiday weekend will be placed in outdoor ‘holding areas’.
Airport operator DAA says it has submitted a “detailed plan” to Government on how it will avoid a repeat of last weekend’s passenger chaos.
In his opening address to the Oireachtas Transport Committee this afternoon, DAA Chief Executive Dalton Philips will outline the main points of the plan.
He will note that passengers will be advised to arrive at least two and a half hours before short-haul flights and at least three and a half hours for long-haul flights.
Passengers who are checking in bags will be advised to add an extra hour for bag drop or check-in.
Meanwhile, when the airport terminals get ‘particularly busy’, access to the building will be triaged based on flight departure times.
Passengers who arrive too early will be placed in outdoor holding areas which are expected to be located at the short-term car parks and directly outside the terminal buildings.
“For departing passengers, access to the appropriate terminals will be controlled and will require the presentation of documentation indicating the time of flight such as a booking confirmation or boarding card,” he will say.
“Bad weather covers”, toilets and seating will be put in place in the holding areas. The new system will be trialled over the Bank Holiday weekend and the holding areas will be set up as quickly as possible in the coming days.
Mr Philips will apologise “unreservedly” to passengers affected by the chaos at the airport last weekend – noting that the service, “fell extremely short of our desired standards”.
“I appreciate the anger, frustration and upset that this has caused,” he will say.
“Put simply, we failed in our duty to our passengers and I want to offer my deep apologies to everyone impacted and indeed to the members of the Oireachtas, as I also recognise the reputational damage to our country for which connectivity and ease of access is our lifeblood.”
'Rebound nobody predicted'
Mr Philips will insist that one of the three key factors leading to the difficulties Dublin Airport is currently facing is that demand for flights has rebounded, “at a rate that nobody predicted”.
He will suggest that “every credible analyst” predicted that passengers numbers would remain at less than 70% of pre-pandemic levels this year and the airport planned accordingly.
He will that traffic ha reached 95% of pre-pandemic levels by May, with the airport handling, “16,500 extra passengers every single day which no one in the industry had predicted six months ago”.
He will go on to say that last Sunday’s difficulties happened because 20 security officers were unexpectedly absent from work and 17 new recruits did not get the necessary certification on time.
“Friday saw a similar number of passengers pass through Dublin Airport as Sunday and travel without incident and without undue delay,” he will say. “On Sunday, that plan failed.”
He will say many of the 37 missing staff members have the clearances and certifications needed to open and operate security lanes and without them, the airport was forced to keep six security lanes closed.
That led to a 30% loss in capacity – with 1,200 fewer passengers processed every hour.
“As more and more passengers joined the growing queues for the available security lanes, the situation became compounded leading to a decision at 10:30am to advise those passengers queueing outside the terminal with flights departing before noon that they would not make their flights,” he will say.
Dublin Airport has recruited over 300 new security officers since 2021, with 150 recruited since April of this year.
Another 70 oficesr are due to come on board in the coming weeks and DAA has “set no upward limit on recruitment numbers”.
Mr Philips will wanr it will be another month before the full complement of additional trained security officers is deployed on the airport floor.
He will say the airport’s three-point plan moving forward would ensure that things will be different this weekend and into the busy summer months.
DAA is offering refunds to all passengers impacted by last weekend’s events.
Anyone impacted is asked to complete the online form at DublinAirport.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.