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Blessing of the planes at Dublin Airport last Christmas DAA
Christmas blessing

Blessing of planes to continue at Dublin Airport despite reports the custom was to be scrapped

There had been recent reports that the long-running tradition would be scrapped due to new security protocols.

THE TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS blessing of planes at Dublin Airport will continue after reports that the long-running tradition was to be scrapped due to new security protocols on the runway.

Earlier this month, the operator of Dublin Airport, DAA, said recent changes to security protocols meant airside access would now be restricted to airport operations online.

As a result, DAA said non-operational activities would no longer be facilitated airside.

DAA said it was working on a new approach to facilitating the traditional Christmas blessing of the planes.

In a statement this morning, DAA confirmed the traditional Christmas blessing of the planes will continue and will be carried out by the chaplain of the Catholic Church at Dublin Airport, Father Des Doyle.

DAA said that it is “aware other groups are also interested in performing blessings”.

A spokesperson remarked that DAA “is happy to engage with any other faith representative that wishes to perform religious or secular blessings at the airport”.

However, these other similar acts will take place landside, in accordance with the latest aviation regulator’s security protocols that restrict airside access to airport operations.

A spokesperson added: “DAA respects all faiths and provides a multi-faith prayer room in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport, providing people of all faiths, religions and spirituality with a sanctuary to retreat to when visiting the airport.”

Kenny Jacobs, CEO of DAA, said that while DAA is “always looking to the future, we respect tradition as well”.

Jacobs added: “Safety is paramount in the aviation industry and Fr Des’s security clearance has enabled him to support the spiritual needs of Dublin Airport employees and passengers for many years.

Jacobs also remarked that the Christmas blessing is a “cherished part of his ministry at the airport and we are delighted to be able to support the continuance of this 76-year tradition”.

He added that DAA is “committed to supporting all groups that wish to express their faith here”.

History of the blessing

The tradition began in 1947 with the blessing of an Aer Lingus aircraft, and since 1967 it has taken place on Christmas Day when the airport is closed.

However, new aviation security protocols introduced in January of this year suggested that the tradition might have to end.

These protocols restrict airside access to airport operations, other than in exceptional circumstances.

Due to his role at the airport, DAA noted that Fr Doyle has undergone the same Garda vetting process as other DAA employees who require airside access.

This enables him to be airside to counsel passengers and employees, as well as perform other activities including the traditional blessing of the planes.

DAA said that individuals without airside clearance will not be able to be facilitated on a temporary pass for similar events, but will be supported to hold landside events.

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