Dublin Airport has closed the departures road outside Terminal 1 to all vehicles to allow for the installation of covered passenger queuing areas for use if needed over the coming days and weeks.
The airport said on Thursday that the covered areas will be in place and available to provide shelter for passengers from the early hours of Friday morning. Passenger drop-off has moved to the airport’s Atrium Road.
Staff at Dublin Airport will only move passengers who arrive too early for flights into the new designated holding areas outside the terminals if queues start to build at busy times.
Graeme McQueen, media relations manager at Dublin Airport, said staff will move people into the holding zones if there is a “build-up of the numbers” in queues at the airport terminals.
Airport operator DAA expects about 46,000 departing passengers through the airport on Thursday, which was close to the numbers expected every day over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Almost 250,000 passengers are due to travel through the airport between Thursday and Monday.
People were passing through the airport in less than an hour with departing passengers taking less than half a hour to pass through Terminal One, Mr McQueen told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
Should queues build up in the terminals and spill outside, staff will check boarding cards or booking confirmations and direct those who arrived too early to the holding areas.
The airport operator has said that it is planning to put bad-weather cover, seats and toilets into the holding areas over the coming days in the event that they are required.
“This isn’t about holding people back unnecessarily. We will only do this if we absolutely have to. The whole aim is to make sure that nobody misses a flight this weekend,” said Mr McQueen.
Lengthy delays last Sunday caused more than 1,000 people to miss their flights due to a shortage of rostered staff that forced the airport to close security lanes.
Passengers flying out on short-haul flights are being asked to arrive two and a half hours before their flight departures and passengers on long-haul flights three and a half hours.
Passengers have been asked to verify check-in and bag drop opening times with their airline and, if they can, allow up to one hour of additional time to check-in luggage.
Mr McQueen said the airport was confident that it could get passengers through “in plenty of time” if they stick to the recommended arrival times and the holding areas will not be needed.
Staff on the ground will monitor for any build-up in numbers. The aim of the contingency plan was to avoid a build-up of numbers of people arriving too early having a “knock-on impact” on people who are arriving at the airport at the right time and then missing their flights, he said.
“If it gets to the point that things are taking too long, this plan will kick in and the team on the ground will make a decision and communicate that with passengers on the ground,” he said.
“We will also look to do that through social media as well.”