Irish holidaymakers are facing a summer of discontent with thousands of flights being cancelled and massive queues in airports, with one expert warning: “The chaos is unpredictable”.
It emerged yesterday that hundreds of staff and unions in airports across Europe have called for strikes, resulting in airlines being forced to cancel their flights.
The Dublin Airport Authority last night admitted that there will be major challenges over the summer.
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Travel expert Eoghan Corry said any issues abroad will impact Ireland and added the problems in Dublin Airport were nowhere near resolved.
He said: “Dublin Airport is still an accident waiting to happen. While we haven’t had missed flights, we have security queues and one hour check ins which is just too long.
“The problem there is everything is stretched, so I don’t know how anything can be avoided because we don’t have the staff yet.”
Mr Corry said there will also be problems for the airlines in making sure all their flights can leave Ireland for European destinations.
He added: “While Aer Lingus and Ryanair are the bigger operators, everything will be squeezed regardless. British Airways made the right call by cutting their summer schedule by 20%.
“They did that early in the day, they saw the staff shortages and made the decision to do this, and it was the right one. They have less summer flights, the number is way down, on what was proposed.
“But every single airline is facing this issue. There were scary pictures of big baggage issues in Heathrow on Friday.
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“Baggage handling and delays and bags lost; these are issues that are happening all around us. No doubt it is a summer of everything being scaled down, because we scaled down for Covid and everyone has to scale back up and the numbers returning to flying are a little bit higher and not what we expected.
“That is enough to put strain on the airlines. The chaos is unpredictable.
“You could end up in a one-hour queue in a Spanish airport at immigration, which will be less of a problem for Ireland than Britain because of Brexit, but these are the things that are looming. Then throw in cranky children, a backlog in passports and jobs cuts. There is no way of avoiding this.
“We are in for a very challenging summer for flying and we might as well get used to it.”
Seven unions for Ryanair in Italy, France, Portugal, Belgium, and Spain are warning of a cabin crew strike.
While the Portuguese and Spanish cabin staff have already announced a strike in late June and July. Spanish police are hiring 500 staff at Madrid and Barcelona airports.
There is a shortfall of 2,000 workers in Germany, while one of Europe’s busiest airports Schiphol has agreed to pay 15,000 cleaners, baggage handlers and security €5.25 extra per hour.
Their staff was reduced from 68,000 to 58,000 since Covid. Kevin Cullinane, DAA group head of communications said last night recent measures introduced at the airport have worked well.
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He added: “We continue to advise passengers travelling over the coming weeks to arrive at Dublin Airport 2.5 hours before a short-haul flight and 3.5 hours before a long-haul flight.
“Those checking a bag are advised to allow for up to an additional hour if they can by checking with their airline.”
However, Mr Cullinane admitted airports in Europe, the UK, the US and further afield are trying to cope with the accelerated recovery in travel.
He added: “We note the decision taken by some airports in Europe and the UK to cancel flights.
“DAA is keen to avoid such action at Dublin Airport and we remain fully committed to ensuring we get our staffing levels and operations where they need to be to cope with rising passenger numbers.”
Aer Lingus said last night it had announced last autumn its plan to “return capacity to over 90% of 2019 levels by the summer peak”.
It added:“Since then we have put significant planning and effort into delivering on that ambition, including appropriate recruitment and resourcing. The things within our control are working well, but unfortunately the issues that are outside of our control – such as services provided by airports and third party suppliers – are adding elevated levels of disruption to our service.
“Staffing shortages and supply chain issues at Dublin and other European airports and among third party suppliers are sometimes resulting in our customers experiencing a level of service below what they expect.
“We wish to reassure our customers that we are working closely with all airports and third party suppliers to resolve these challenges as efficiently as possible.”
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