Dublin Airport will have to cut passenger charges by €3.1 million this year as regulators penalise it for last summer’s delays.
About 1,400 travellers missed flights from Dublin at the end of May when a security staff shortage led to long queues, while delays continued through subsequent months as travel rebounded from two years of Government curbs.
The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) said on Tuesday that it would impose an effective €3.1 million penalty on State airports company, DAA, for its failure to meet quality of service standards last summer.
DAA will have to cut the passenger charges it levies on airlines by a total of €3.1 million through this year, rather than hand over the cash to the regulator, as a consequence of the decision.
This will lower airlines’ costs slightly, theoretically allowing them to pass the savings on to passengers using Dublin Airport.
DAA paid for accommodation and new flights for the 1,400 people who missed their flights last May.
However, passengers continued to criticise long security queues and falling hygiene standards at the airport through the summer.
According to the CAR, its ruling covers days in the six months from the end of March to the end of the September last year when Dublin did not meet quality of service standards agreed with the regulator.
They include ensuring that the majority of passengers are through security in less than 30 minutes.
The regulator states that the number of days on which Dublin Airport did not meet the standards during the second and third quarters of last year was enough to merit the maximum rebate on its charges.
The commission imposes the penalty by ordering the airport to rebate passenger charges, which is why it has to cut those levies this year.
Dublin Airport also missed quality targets in the first three months of last year, but the regulator agreed that the high number of security staff who had to take sick leave after contracting Covid-19 amounted to extenuating circumstances.
DAA confirmed that it sought a dispensation from the commission given the challenges the entire industry faced in going from a “standing start” at the beginning of 2022 to dealing with near-peak demand by summer.
“However, the CAR has seen fit to enforce security-queue time penalties,” the company added.
“We continue to raise our game, improve our standards and make travel through Dublin Airport much better, as evidenced by 96 per cent of passengers passing through security in less than 20 minutes last month.”
DAA recruited extra security staff for Dublin through the summer in a bid to cut waiting times. While members of the Defence Forces were put on standby to fill some security posts as a contingency for a period, the company never called on them.
Holidaymakers across Europe and the US last year grappled with queues, delayed or cancelled flights, lost bags and other woes as a post-pandemic resurgence in travel took most airports, airlines and ground handlers by surprise.
Unlike bigger European airports including Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol, Dublin did not force flight cancellations or impose passenger limits.