At Dublin Airport, staff shortages lead to travel chaos

Thousands of travelers wait outside the terminal. Hours of queuing to get through security. Frustrated airline calls for the military ...

Thousands of travelers wait outside the terminal. Hours of queuing to get through security. Frustrated airline calls for the military to intervene.

Such were the chaotic scenes on Sunday as staff shortages caused more than 1,000 passengers to miss their flights at Dublin Airport, the latest European airport to experience logistical difficulties amid a surge in travel following the lifting of pandemic restrictions.

The government met with airport officials on Monday to try to understand why the airport, the largest in the country and a hub for many airlines traveling between North America and Europe, was not able to cope with the volume of passengers.

Kevin Cullinane, the communications manager for DAA, the company that runs Dublin Airport, told national RTÉ Radio on Monday that “well over” 1,000 passengers had missed their flights, “for which we obviously apologize. without reservation”.

“We are currently operating on very thin margins – we are reaching the maximum of our available manpower,” Mr Cullinane said, adding that the airport had “aggressively tried to recruit 300 additional security officers”.

But by 4.30am on Sunday it was clear there would be a problem, he said, and ‘the situation was eventually overwhelmed by the mere presentation of the passengers’, adding: ‘We let ourselves down like this than the nation. yesterday.”

Many airlines allow passengers who missed their flights due to security delays to rebook, and Mr Cullinane said the DAA will reimburse passengers who had to pay out of pocket.

On Monday, things were running smoothly again at the airport, but government ministers met with airport officials to demand a plan to avoid future problems.

Some airlines have asked for the military to step in to help with security checks, but Eamon Ryan, Ireland’s transport minister, said he didn’t think that would solve the immediate problem.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday after meeting airport officials, Mr Ryan called the delays “totally unacceptable”.

“You can’t have 1,000 people missing flights, you can’t have thousands of people queuing outside, even outside the terminal,” he said, adding that the airport had “accepted that it was a terrible failure”.

The airport always advises people to come to the airport two and a half hours before a short-haul flight and up to three and a half hours before a long-haul flight. But for many who had planned to leave the airport last weekend, that wouldn’t have been enough.

Rebecca Maher, 34, had planned to fly to her partner’s family home in Italy on Sunday but they ended up missing their flight despite arriving at the airport hours in advance. The two women had to queue outside for nearly an hour, and by the time they got inside, the atmosphere among the travelers had grown tense.

“There were thousands of people crammed into the building; nobody knew what was going on,” she said. “And the staff, my heart was breaking for them, they didn’t know what to do either. People were very agitated and angry.

She described seeing a number of people, including staff, burst into tears.

“It was just awful,” she said.

Other anxious travelers said they plan to get to the airport much earlier for upcoming flights.

Mark Walsh, a student in Dublin, said he planned to arrive at the airport seven hours early for a scheduled flight to Los Angeles on Sunday.

“It’s a necessary precaution,” he said. “Especially with current costs, I’m a student and can’t afford to just book my flight.”

Other European airports have also been struggling with excessive queues and delays during a busy travel period when nearly all pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted and people are eager to get away.

Over the Easter holidays, a lack of staff led to long queues at London’s Heathrow Airport and other major transport hubs across the country. Last week, travelers at Gatwick Airport near London and Manchester Airport in northern England also experienced long delays and some airlines canceled flights to ease congestion.

Travelers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport have had to wait for hours in recent times in queues that spilled outside the terminal, also due to a lack of security and other staff.

Last week, Dutch airline KLM announced that it would stop selling tickets for its flights from Amsterdam airport for a few days to ease congestion.

“Well we made it,” one passenger wrote on Twitter, hours after posting a video people waiting outside Schiphol in the rain. “A tip for people going to Schiphol: make sure you’re there four hours early. Then you’re always running to catch your flight after security.”

Claire Moses contributed report.

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Newsrust - US Top News: At Dublin Airport, staff shortages lead to travel chaos
At Dublin Airport, staff shortages lead to travel chaos
Newsrust - US Top News
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