Dublin Airport is promising that passengers will get through security in 30 minutes or less from early June.
irport chiefs have faced a barrage of criticism since the lifting of pandemic restrictions and a ramping up of air schedules in March. Critics have cited long queues, poor service, limited parking and a lack of taxis.
But in an interview with the Irish Independent, the DAA’s head of communications, Kevin Cullinane, said airport chiefs are days away from fixing some of the problems – although parking is likely to remain an issue for the summer.
“We’re mandated to have security queues of no more than 30 minutes by the Commission for Aviation Regulation. That’s where we want to get back to,” Mr Cullinane said.
Up to 110,000 passengers are expected on busy days at Dublin Airport this summer, with numbers approaching 90pc of 2019 levels – when the airport clocked a record 32.9 million passengers.
But so far the rush to travel again has resulted in what airport bosses admit were “dreadful” experiences for travellers who at times have had to queue outside terminals.
As well as frustrated travellers, existing airport staff have borne the brunt of passenger anger, including being spat at.
In an effort to improve the situation, DAA will have:
- Hired 300 new security staff “by early June”, taking the total to 900
- Introduced new taxi permits and incentives to encourage taxi drivers to work unsociable hours
- Applied to Government for permission to open temporary parking spaces.
Mr Cullinane said the airport “tripped over” a hurdle when airlines switched to summer schedules in late March.
“That’s when people experienced those dreadful three and four-hour queues… We’ve put our hands up,” he said.
Airport analysis suggests security lines are now moving much more quickly, but training will be ongoing and Mr Cullinane said “the final yards are always the hardest”.
“We’re nearly there, but we won’t be happy until 100pc of our passengers are going through security in under the 30 minutes. We’re 100pc committed to it.”
He added: “We’ve been recruiting 300 additional staff to make sure that’s happening. The fact that even with half of that complement on the floor and trained we’ve got to 95pc, once we have the other 150 fully trained and deployed at the start of June we’d be reasonably confident we should be there.”
Problems with a lack of parking spaces are likely to remain for the foreseeable future, however. These are partly due to the ongoing closure of Dublin’s Quick Park facility, which DAA says removes around 6,000 spaces, or “around 30pc of the available parking”.
Prices at long-term car parks were increased in March, and passengers are being encouraged to book in advance and look at alternate ways of getting to the airport.
DAA has also issued 256 new taxi permits, taking its total to 1,420, and introduced a trial taxi rebate scheme which could see drivers’ annual permit fees reimbursed if they take a minimum number of fares after 10pm. DAA spokesman Graeme McQueen told the Irish Independent the aim is to “incentivise more taxi drivers to work unsociable shifts”.
Retail and food opening hours are also being extended as staff shortfalls are addressed, and a new northern runway is scheduled to open in August.
“We want the overall experience to be five star,” Mr Cullinane said.