DAA has said it will provide a refund to passengers who missed their flights as a result of long delays on Sunday as Ministers expressed “deep unhappiness” with wait times.
An urgent meeting between the minister with responsibility for aviation and DAA will be held early on Monday morning as Taoiseach Micheál Martin described the situation as “unsatisfactory”.
Earlier on Sunday the DAA advised passengers they may miss their flights due to prolonged queues and issues around check-in and security screening at its terminals.
The Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton, who has responsibly for international transport, said she had brought forward her meeting with the DAA Chief Executive to first thing on Monday morning. She said she should will seek to get clarity as to the reasons behind Sunday’s events.
Both Ms Naughton and the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan expressed “deep unhappiness” with what they described as the excessively long queues.
“The passenger experience at Dublin Airport is falling far short of the service that our citizens and visitors should expect at our largest State airport,” they said in a joint statement.
Both said that it was not satisfactory that some people, who were following DAA guidelines, had turned up to the airport for check-in on time, but had still missed their flights.
“The situation is causing undue stress and potential cost to people, which is simply not good enough,” they said.
Ms Naughton said she will also seek assurances to intending passengers ahead of this coming June bank holiday weekend where there is an expected further increase in numbers.
Minister Naughton has held daily meetings with the DAA chief executive at the height of the security delay issues when they emerged first in March, and has been holding twice weekly meetings since then.
A spokesperson for Dublin Airport said they expected 50,000 passengers to pass through it on Sunday.
“Queuing outside both terminals has been deployed since early morning as part of Dublin Airport’s contingency plans for the increased numbers of passengers travelling,” the airport said in a statement.
“Due to significant queues inside the terminals passengers queueing outside the terminal have been advised they may not make their flight and may need to contact their airline to rebook. Dublin Airport sincerely apologises for the obvious frustration and inconvenience this is causing.”
Graeme McQueen, media relations manager at DAA acknowledged passengers were waiting “two to three hours” to access the terminal at some points on Sunday.
“It comes in waves but at 11am this morning the queue for Terminal 1 was right to the bottom of the ramp.”
Lengthy queues and wait times of several hours to clear security in the airport have been reported multiple times in the last three months.
“Since the scenes we had at the end of March we have been trying to get ahead of the numbers. Unfortunately today the numbers just caught up with us,” Mr McQueen said.
The authority was “ramping up” staff numbers at the airport, he said, but many recent recruits were still going though vetting and training procedures.
“Originally we were taking on 300 staff, we have upped that now to 370 and we had 5,000 application for the jobs so that is a really positive demand.”
Of the initial 300 new recruits, 200 had started or had been given starting dates, he said. “There is quite an onerous security clearance process that has to be gone through, but we should see the numbers ramping up very shortly.”
Last month, DAA said it would work to “refine and adapt” its operations after passengers were forced to queue outside the terminal building during the Easter holiday period.
Travellers intending to use the airport on Sunday shared images of long queues outside both terminals and expressed their frustration at the situation on social media.
Daire NicAonghusa checked Ryanair’s and the airport’s advice online in the morning before arriving at the airport two and half hours before her flight to Edinburgh from Terminal 1. “It was actually quite frightening driving in ... there was a huge amount of people outside. It looked like the airport had been evacuated.”
“We spent about 45 minutes trying to figure out what was going on. I joined the queue... this queue doubled up in the tunnel [from the car park], doubled up outside the building and security’s not letting anyone else in the building at this point,” she said.
“There’s thousands of people in this queue... nobody managing the queues, no advice anywhere about what was going on ... there was just one security guard saying ‘get in the queue’.”
Ms NicAonghusa said the queue barely moved in that time and with about 90 minutes left before her flight she opted to give up on trying to get inside the terminal building. She rebooked onto another flight to Edinburgh from Belfast on Monday instead.
“I wouldn’t go back [to Dublin] ... I could have gotten other cheaper flights cheaper out of Dublin but I just thought ‘no’ ... it’s a joke ... I never got near the building.”
On Sunday afternoon, An Garda Síochána confirmed members of the force from the airport garda station were assisting in crowd control at the terminals.
Also on Sunday, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on transport Darren O’Rourke TD said DAA, the airport’s operating body, must ensure passengers are compensated for missing their flights due to the delays.
“We have witnessed chaotic scenes at Dublin Airport again today and with the likely consequence of passengers missing their flights. This is completely unacceptable. It is a failure of management. It is a failure to prepare for known demand,” Mr O’Rourke said in a statement.