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Airport CEO defends using VIP private terminal to fly to Saudi Arabia on Saturday

Dalton Philips said he “came straight back” when the queueing chaos ensued the following day.


DAA CEO DALTON Philips has defended using a VIP private terminal in Dublin Airport for a flight to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, saying that he doesn’t use the service often. 

Dublin Airport’s Platinum Services option starts at €295 per person and provides services including private check-in, suites for dining and drinking as well as an option for a chauffeur-driven car to the aircraft.

Speaking during an appearance at the Oireachtas Transport Committee today, Philips said that he didn’t personally pay for the service for his flight but that it was a charge made to his “travel budget”. 

Philips had earlier apologised to passengers who missed flights due to long queues at the airport on Sunday and said he had “high confidence” that the scenes would not be repeated this weekend.

This morning, the Irish Daily Mail reported that Philips had flown to Saudi Arabia on Saturday before returning on Sunday. 

DAA has business ties with the Gulf state and earlier this year won a contract to manage operations of the airport in Jeddah. 

Speaking to TDs and Senators today, Philips said he flew to Saudi Arabia on Saturday night and “turned around and came straight back on a night flight” when the queuing problems in Dublin Airport developed. 

Dalton was asked by Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan whether he had specifically used the Platinum Services facility “because you already knew that there were starting to become significant delays”. 

Dalton replied: “No, categorically not.”

I wouldn’t have gone on the flight because when I went I came all the way back. I would have saved myself, the company the cost of travelling to the Middle East. Had I known that Sunday was going to be what it was, I certainly wouldn’t have travelled on Saturday.

Boylan also asked whether he had paid to use the Platinum Services or whether “that came out of DAA expenses?”. 

Philips replied “that it’s a charge made to my cost centre”.

“I don’t personally pay for it but it’s a charge that’s made into my travel budget,” he said. 

Philips, who is due to leave the DAA in September, defended his use of Platinum Services, saying that he doesn’t use it frequently and that as CEO he likes to use “all services” within the airport. 

“I would travel many different ways. I think it’s important to be in all parts of the business, be it going through the Fast Track product, the normal security product, going through the Platinum Service product. It’s an opportunity to see and talk to staff,” he said. 

Source: Dublin Airport/YouTube

Philips also said that Platinum Services was “our best performing business” over the pandemic period due to people’s concerns about Covid-19. 

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Boylan then responded that the VIP service was “clearly” more associated with people “with deep pockets” than those worried about Covid. 

Access to the Platinum Service starts at €295 and then you have the additional extras like chauffeur services. So when you used the Platinum Services there last Saturday, did you avail of the chauffeur element as well?

In response Philips said that Platinum Services is a “very popular product” and that “as a CEO, I think it’s important to see all our different products”.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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