'This is madness': Senator slams huge queues at Dublin Airport as passengers warned they will miss flights

'This is madness': Senator slams huge queues at Dublin Airport as passengers warned they will miss flights

A SENATOR has described scenes at Dublin Airport as 'madness' after passengers queuing outside were warned they may miss their flights.

Gerard Craughwell, an Independent Senator for the Labour Panel in the Seanad, has said the scenes have made Ireland 'the laughing stock of the travelling world'.

Kevin Cullinane, Group Head of Communications at Dublin Airport Authority, admitted they did not have sufficient staff to deal with demand.

50,000 travellers

The airport said on Twitter that it had been expecting 50,000 travellers to depart today.

As long queues developed, travellers were asked to queue outside the terminal 'as part of contingency plans'.

Despite saying it aimed to keep disruption to a minimum, the airport later warned that some passenger may miss their flights.

"Due to significant queues inside the terminal for check-in, bag drop & security, passengers queueing outside the terminal may not make their flight & may need to contact their airline to rebook," they tweeted.

"We sincerely apologise for the obvious frustration and inconvenience this may cause."

Sharing an image of people queuing along the approach to Terminal 1, Senator Craughwell called for action from Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Junior Minister Hildegarde Naughton.

"This is Dublin Airport this morning. This is madness," he tweeted.

"Where is @EamonRyan or @1Hildegarde this has to stop we are the laughing stock of the travelling world."

Insuficient staffing

Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week programme today, Mr Cullinane said that despite anticipating the number of travellers, queues developed from very early in the morning.

He said this was partly attributable to travellers arriving well in advance for flights later in the day, "even though we have been trying to advise passengers not to turn up too early".

However, he did admit the airport didn't have the staff to meet the demand.

"Significantly, we did not have sufficient staff manning sufficient posts throughout the airport to cope with the demand early on and hence queues built up," he told This Week host Justin McCarthy.

"For the inconvenience that has been caused we unreservedly apologise.

"We clearly did not have enough lanes open in security from very early on this morning for the numbers that presented themselves at that hour of the morning.

"That caused a compounding effect throughout the morning, with queues growing within the terminal.

"For health and safety reasons we have a contingency plan where we have queueing areas outside of Terminal 1 to facilitate that when it does happen.

"But even those queues grew to over 500 metres and we had to make the very tough decision at around 10.30 this morning to advise passengers that had flights before 12 noon that they were unlikely to make it, given the queues that were inside the terminal."

He said passengers that have incurred additional charges should contact the DAA customer care team.

'Completely unacceptable'

Sinn Féin TD Darren O'Rourke slammed the scenes as a 'failure of management'.

"We have witnessed chaotic scenes at Dublin Airport again today and with the likely consequence of passengers missing their flights," he said.

“This is completely unacceptable. It is a failure of management. It is a failure to prepare for known demand.

"Referring passengers back to their airlines to rebook is an insult. Passengers are set to miss flights through no fault of their own.

"The DAA are responsible for managing the airport and, as such, it is their responsibility to ensure systems are in place to provide for the timely through-put of passengers.

"If passengers arrived in good time but have missed their flights due to inordinate delays of the DAA's making, then passengers should not be further penalised."

Ms Naughton, Minister of State for International Transport, is due to meet with DAA Chief Executive Dalton Philips tomorrow.