Dublin airport operator says it’s ‘grossly wrong’ about resuming flights

DUBLIN, June 1 (Reuters) – Dublin Airport’s 2022 staffing forecast turned out to be “grossly wrong” and the airport has cut too many staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, its chief executive said on Wednesday, bringing apologies for the weekend of road chaos.

More than 1,000 passengers missed flights at Ireland’s main airport on Sunday as staff shortages forced travelers to queue for hours to get through security, a scene replicated elsewhere in Europe as airports struggled to meet a strong recovery in demand. read more

Dublin Airports Authority (DAA) CEO Dalton Phillips said airports were operating at “very, very good margins” and that more frequent absences of staff than usual and the occasional inclusion of trainee security staff exacerbated Sunday’s queuing problems.

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“We felt like 70% of our (pre-COVID-19) staff would be fine in 2022, and we were wrong… We were very wrong in terms of recovery rates,” Philips told a parliamentary committee.

He said no industry analyst believes traffic will return to pre-pandemic levels before 2024 or 2025. In Dublin, it has returned to 90% of pre-pandemic levels in recent weeks and is expected to surpass that mark next year. he added.

The DAA laid off 25% of its staff at the height of the pandemic, which Philips felt was too much of a cut.

He said that by the end of June, the airport will increase the number of security personnel – a particular problem – to 702 from 535 currently, and hopes to add another 100 in the summer to reach pre-pandemic levels.

Philips also said it does not foresee a recurrence of Sunday’s problems this coming public holiday weekend, when the state will have 10% more staff through a combination of triple overtime pay, freeing security staff from other activities, and adding others from smaller regional Irish airports.

In the coming days, he will also set up a holding area outside the terminals to be used for those who arrive too early for flights if the airport becomes too busy. Passengers are advised to arrive 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours prior to departure.

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Reporting by Padraik Halpin in Dublin. Editing by Matthew Lewis.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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