Dublin Airport operator outlines plan to improve passenger experience

Daa is currently finalising operational arrangements for the June bank holiday
Dublin Airport operator outlines plan to improve passenger experience

Olivia Kelleher

Updated at 14:33

Dublin Airport operator Daa has outlined a plan to improve passenger experience after chaotic scenes unfolded at the airport over the weekend.

Daa chief executive officer Dalton Philips and members of his executive team met with Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister of State with responsibility for international transport Hildegarde Naughton this morning.

They informed the Ministers of a plan to improve queue management, maximise the availability of staffing resources and increase the number of security lanes open at peak times.

They also updated the Ministers on how Dublin Airport intends to compensate passengers who missed flights last weekend.

Daa indicated that it is currently finalising operational arrangements for the June bank holiday and this will be communicated in the next 24 hours, to deliver an improved passenger experience for everyone departing from Dublin Airport this weekend.

The Ministers emphasised the importance of restoring passenger confidence in Dublin Airport. Daa said it will continue to engage with the Ministers on a daily basis.

Back to normal

It comes as scenes at Dublin Airport last weekend are being replicated right across the travel industry as the sector is experiencing a "real challenge" getting back to normal, according to president of the Irish Travel Agent Association Paul Hackett.

In an interview on the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, Mr Hackett said that issues around recruitment and retention are key not just in the travel industry but also in hospitality.

"We can hear the ads on the radio for jobs in tourism, for jobs in insurance. It is every sector.

"It is a huge challenge, and it is a consequence of what happens post pandemic in terms of those sectors effectively being closed down for two to three years."

Mr Hackett said that in a normal year, travel agents have bookings on file from the previous year. However, that did not happen in 2021 and now agents are receiving a flood of bookings.

"The big change for this year is the last minute booking. People are making decisions within four to six weeks of travel to travel abroad. We think part of that is down to what happened with Ukraine at the end of February with macroeconomic issues around cost and inflation and consumer confidence.

"Consumers held off in making that final decision, but they haven't been able to travel for two years. Some people as you say have savings built up. The supply in terms of the airlines and the accommodation in the destinations is back to normal levels."

Mr Hackett added that the Daa seems to be moving towards providing assurances for the weekend ahead.

Avoiding congestion

"They are not going to be complacent about what happened on Sunday. It was shambolic. Nobody has said otherwise. Anybody in the Daa who I have spoken to or heard on the media has recognised they were absolutely at fault, and they need to do better.

"We can't have this for Irish holidaymakers leaving the country or for visitors in Ireland who are returning to their country. We cannot have travel impeded in any way."

He has urged customers not to turn up too early at the airport in order to avoid congestion.

Meanwhile retired Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Byrne, an airport safety and security auditor, said a number of airports in other countries are experiencing problems similar to those of Dublin Airport.

"It is a worldwide phenomenon really. We have problems in Frankfurt, Gatwick, Schiphol and a whole host of places. We have airlines like EasyJet cancelling flights. Unfortunately here we have a problem that has made it to the streets.

"The Daa are very good at what they do. It just fell apart last weekend, unfortunately.

"If you have people whose jobs can wait awhile in the general management offices you take them down, and they can help and assist in the emergency."

He said it is "not acceptable" that an airport of the quality of Dublin should be falling apart at things like screening. Mr Byrne said: "You know exactly the numbers of passengers who are set to depart."

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