Holidaymakers could face further summer disruption

New DAA chief executive says Dublin airport working to prepare for peak season

Holidaymakers could face further disruption across Europe this summer, according to Kenny Jacobs, chief executive of State airports company DAA.

Mr Jacobs told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications on Wednesday that Dublin Airport was focused on hiring a further 155 security staff to bring frontline numbers to 800 on time for summer.

He said that he was very confident that the company was doing this at the pace required to meet likely summer traffic. However, he cautioned that air traffic control staffing problems, particularly in France, Germany and Catalonia in northeastern Spain, could disrupt holiday flying.

“If they have staffing issues, then everyone is going to have a problem,” he added.


Air traffic control strikes, particularly in France, caused delays and cancellations for many Irish and other travellers last summer. Mr Jacobs explained that air traffic control strikes in the three countries highlighted force flights travelling through their air space to other destinations to deviate, forcing delays or cancellations. “It means that if you’re flying from Dublin to Italy on your holidays your flight is impacted.”

The airports chief asked the politicians to demand that the EU take charge of overflights through individual states’ airspace, which would allow flights to continue irrespective of strikes. “We would ask the committee to put pressure on Brussels so that overflights are allowed.”

Mr Jacobs is the latest air travel industry figure to predict problems in Europe’s skies this summer. Eamonn Brennan, who retired as head of Eurocontrol, the overall European air navigation agency, warned of problems for summer 2023 as travel continued to recover from Covid curbs.

Limits imposed as a consequence of the war in Ukraine have aggravated problems with the region’s already crowded air space.

Appearing before the committee within weeks of becoming chief executive of DAA, responsible for Cork and Dublin airports, Mr Jacobs stressed that his main priority was to ensure a high standard of service at the capital’s gateway. He said he and his colleagues regularly walked through Dublin airport’s terminals to monitor performance and facilities, down to toilets, whose conditions many passengers criticised last summer.

At the hearing Senator Gerard Craughwell described Dublin airport’s car parking charges as “outrageous”, and queried if the State company was trying to tap passengers for extra revenues.

However, Catherine Gubbins, director of finance, told the Senator that car parking was not a source of extra revenue. She explained that regulators took earnings from this into account when setting the airport’s charges.

Senator Craughwell told the committee that he had raised DAA’s bid for the former Quick Park facility at the airport with competition regulators. DAA is in talks to take over the property. Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison pointed out that this process was ongoing and subject to regulators’ approval. Mergers law obliges the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to scrutinise such deals.

Around one in four passengers departing from Dublin park their cars. Mr Jacobs noted that DAA was keen to facilitate public transport there, and has already set aside a site to house a station for Metro North, the proposed rail line connecting the capital with is airport.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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