Dublin Airport security could be opened on 24-hour basis under emergency plan

Airport delays likely to get worse leading up to Easter, travel agents say

Delays at Dublin Airport will only get worse leading up to Easter if additional staff are not hired “urgently” to meet demand, travel agents have said.

Over the weekend, members of the public experienced lengthy delays at the airport, with some passengers saying they missed their flight as a result of queuing two hours for security.

DAA, which operates the airport, attributed the queues to staff shortages following the collapse of international travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As well as losing one third of around 3,000 employees to voluntary redundancy because of the pandemic, Dublin Airport has experienced short term staffing issues due to the upsurge in Covid infections that has hit all sectors of society.


The airport has “apologised unreservedly” for the delays, and said a taskforce has been set up to ensure measures can be put in place as fast as possible to ensure delays are kept to a minimum as what looks certain to be the busiest summer since 2019 approaches.

Among the emergency measures under consideration by DAA are the opening of security on a 24-hour basis to allow for overnight screenings as well as a modified “modular” training regime for new recruits to allow them perform certain tasks while still learning others.

Dublin Airport – like most international airports - experiences the biggest surge in passenger traffic between 6am and 9am and by opening security overnight it would allow passengers to come through the airport over an extended period.

“It is not as busy as it was last weekend every day or every even every hour of the day and we are trying to see if there are innovative solutions we can put in place quickly to get us back to where the public want us to be but it will take a number of weeks,” DAA spokesman Kevin Cullinane said.

The airport had been trying to recruit sufficient staff to handle the increase in passenger numbers since the end of last year, he said, but a diminished pool of available labour as well as enhanced background checks and longer security screenings had hindered its efforts.

“Last weekend was the start of the traditional summer schedules and with the shortages as a result of the voluntary redundancies as well as people out sick with Covid and enhanced security screening for new staff we ended up with the perfect storm.”

Pat Dawson, chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents' Association (ITAA), said there are concerns as they move into the busy season, because it is "not a problem that can be solved overnight".

“There is a big period coming up now, the Easter period, that’s when you have a lot of families going out. And then you go into the summer season, when you have family holidays. Every flight is more less full over the Easter period, so the numbers will be even bigger,” he said.

“This time of the year, it’s not in full flow because most of the capacity will commence in April. If it stays status quo, people are going to experience the issue on a much bigger scale.”

In a statement, Ryanair advised passengers to arrive at least 3½ hours before their scheduled departure time.

“Check-in desks, kiosks and baggage drop will be open 3.5 hours before departure. We apologise to our customers for these unfortunate security delays, which are entirely out of our control,” the statement said.

DAA said it continues to advise all passengers to be at the airport a minimum of two hours before boarding a short-haul flight and three hours prior to boarding a long-haul flight although at peak times people should consider arriving ahead of that, particularly at peak times and at weekends.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor