Airlines cancel more than 60 Dublin flights

Thousands of passengers hit over the last week as bottlenecks, strikes and Covid cause travel chaos

Thousands of travellers in and out of the Republic were hit over the last week as airlines cancelled around 60 Dublin flights in the face of bottlenecks, strikes and Covid.

The latest to suffer are passengers on Aer Lingus’s 7.30am Dublin-Heathrow flight on Thursday, and the return leg at 9.50am. The airline confirmed late on Wednesday that these would be cancelled following a request from the London airport, which is one of several European hubs hit by labour shortages.

A Covid outbreak among staff has also forced the Irish airline to cancel its Thursday Berlin and Hamburg services.

Those cancellations bring to more than 60 the number of Dublin flights axed by European and North American airlines since June 22nd, hitting thousands of passengers.

The airlines involved include industry giants such as American Airlines, British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa and its low-cost subsidiary Eurowings, as well as United Airlines.

Estimates of the numbers of customers hit vary as no airline contacted said how many passengers were due on the flights in question. Sources suggest anything from 9,000 to 12,000.

Other carriers included Canada’s West Jet, Transavia France and British carrier Eastern Airways.

Aer Lingus accounted for about 30 cancellations, mainly due to a Covid outbreak among staff.

This caused it to drop six return services from Dublin – 12 flights in all – on Wednesday. Destinations included Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Lyon, Geneva and Munich.

Aer Lingus said it had cancelled about 1 per cent of June flights as a result of the problem. The carrier stressed that it was doing everything possible to accommodate passengers whose flights had been cancelled.

German group Lufthansa also axed its Frankfurt service on Wednesday, while Canadian airline WestJet cancelled its Dublin-Toronto Pearson service.

Irish rival Ryanair cancelled two flights last Friday – to Milan and Brussels. The airline confirmed over the weekend that it had lost some services to a French air traffic controller strike, a problem the group regularly highlights as an issue for European aviation.

Eurowings also blamed the strike for the loss of flights from Cologne and Düsseldorf to Dublin. In addition the German carrier highlighted problems with Düsseldorf Airport’s baggage system, ground handling and security checks holding up aviation staff recruitment.

A technical issue forced British Airways to cancel a London City service last Thursday, while it had to drop a Heathrow flight two days later.

US carrier United Airlines axed flights to Newark, New Jersey, last Thursday June and on Monday June. It blamed a technical problem with the aircraft for Thursday’s decision and an “unexpected operational issue” for its problems on Monday.

The airline said that it accommodated affected passengers on alternative flights operated by itself or other carriers. Where appropriate, it provided hotel rooms and meal vouchers.

All the airlines that responded to requests for comments blamed internal issues, problems at airports in their home countries, strikes or Covid for the cancellations.

Dublin Airport has said it is doing everything possible to avoid flight cancellations. This week the Government approved the use of Defence Forces personnel for vehicle post security checks at Dublin should they be needed.

Meanwhile, the Central Statistics Office said 1.59 million passengers arrived in the Republic on “overseas routes” in May. State statisticians added that this was 19 times more than the 85,400 people who travelled here during the same month last year, when the Government continued to ban most travel.

However, it was 12 per cent less than the 1.82 million passengers who arrived in the Republic in May 2019, the year before the pandemic struck and the period the travel industry regards as a real benchmark.

The figures show that 1.58 million people left the State for overseas destinations last month, a multiple of the 97,000 who departed the Republic in May 2020. That figure trailed the 2019 departures total of 1.85 million by about 15 per cent. Flying accounts for the vast majority of people travelling into or out of the State.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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