Airport boss used private check-in to travel over weekend

DAA chief executive Dalton Philips used airport’s Platinum Services when he flew on business

Dalton Philips, chief executive of Dublin Airport-owner DAA, used its private security lane when he travelled for business at the weekend as long queues of passengers waited to get through security checks.

Mr Philips flew to Saudi Arabia, where DAA has an airport management operation, on Saturday, but cut the trip short when he became aware of the chaos being caused by a shortage of security staff and the long waiting times for people in Dublin, which led to more than 1,000 passengers missing flights on Sunday.

He told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport on Wednesday that he travelled through Dublin’s private Platinum Services when he flew on Saturday. Responding to questions, he said the process took an hour and that the service costs €295. Mr Philips said the cost came from his travel budget, which meant he did not pay for it himself.

Mr Philips stressed that he did not use the Platinum Service very often and also went through the fast-track and normal security lanes at the airport.

The airport chief executive abandoned his trip to Saudi Arabia when he reached his transfer airport in Kuwait on Monday morning. “I came straight back as soon as I heard,” he told the committee.

He later told Sinn Féin senator Lynn Boylan that he felt it was “important to be in all parts of the business” and it was an opportunity to see and talk to staff in the Platinum terminal.

He confirmed that he availed of a chauffeur service that comes with the Platinum Service, saying it was important as chief executive to “see all our different products”.

“I don’t use it very much, I happened to use it on Saturday,” he said.

During a later session of the same committee, Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton told Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú that there had been “robust” engagement with the DAA over the issues at Dublin Airport last weekend. “I’ll be watching this very closely, as will Minister (Eamon) Ryan and the Government, in relation to the delivery of that plan over the weekend,” she said.

Ms Naughton said the DAA had been told all measures had to be put in place to ensure passengers got flights and were communicated with. She said the DAA had resources available to it to hire any external assistance it might need. “I have said this to the DAA, whatever they need to do, they need to put in place”.

She said the use of the Army had come up in discussions, but it was “unclear” what members of the Defence Forces would do if sent to Dublin Airport. “Nothing is off the table in relation to Government but the DAA have to ensure they are maximising every resource they have,” she said, adding that this included looking outside the company itself.

She said issues relating to payment of staff stemming from the failure of systems after a service provider was the victim of a cyberattack had to be handled by DAA as well.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times