Aer Rianta has expressed its regret at a recent lapse in cleaning standards at Shannon Airport which prompted the award-winning actor, Jeremy Irons, to mop up a busy passenger lounge.
A spokeswoman for Aer Rianta admitted "standards fell down" last Saturday night, when the incident occurred.
While she said she was not making excuses, the night in question saw the sudden diversion of four flights from Cork to Shannon because of fog.
Only two catering staff had been on duty at the time, and these had had to deal with an extra 360 passengers, she said.
"It shouldn't have happened. It's a bad impression and not an image we would want for the airport. But it was a large influx of passengers that wasn't expected." She added: "We will be endeavouring to make sure it does not happen again."
Mr Irons had been on board one of the diverted Cork-bound flights. Reportedly upset by the sight of beer-soaked tables and overflowing ashtrays in a lounge at Shannon, the Oscar-winning star grabbed a cleaner's trolley and cloth and started mopping up the mess.
"I had done enough reading and I looked around me and the place was a tip so I decided to clean up," Mr Irons told the Irish Daily Mirror yesterday.
"I find being diverted at airports quite depressing and I felt much better after cleaning up," he said. The actor was en route to his 15th-century Kilcoe Castle, near Ballydehob, which he controversially painted a shade of peach during a recent restoration project.
Mr Tadhg Kearney, chairman of the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland's Air Transport Users' Council, was restrained in his reaction to the incident.
"Generally, cleanliness in Irish airports is not a issue we would hear a lot of criticism about. If I was looking for something to criticise Aer Rianta, or looking for something improved, I would be looking at something else," he said.
A survey of passengers last March by the council ranked Shannon eighth out of 13 international airports in terms of services, cleanliness and access.
Mr Kearney noted that if passengers were unhappy with services at airports they had a new avenue of complaint through a voluntary charter of passenger rights adopted last February by Aer Rianta.