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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Alamy Stock Photo File photo of Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary.

Ryanair CEO raises concerns over potential staff shortages at Dublin Airport this Christmas

He added that a ‘fairer burden of environmental taxes’ could see a 50% increase in air traffic.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 30th 2022, 3:48 PM

RYANAIR CEO MICHAEL O’Leary has raised concerns over staffing levels at Dublin Airport, saying that there may be a repeat of this summer’s delays at Christmas.

Speaking to TDs and Senators at the Joint Oireachtas Transport Committee this afternoon, O’Leary said that Ryanair was currently engaging with the Dublin Airport authority (DAA) over the issue of staffing shortages.

“We are very concerned that the DAA may not have enough staff there for this Christmas,” O’Leary said, under questioning from Independent TD Michael Lowry.

It comes following the massive delays seen at Dublin Airport earlier this year, where queues for security and bag drop stretched outside the terminal buildings.

At one point, delays saw over 1,000 passengers miss their flights due to the queues at security.

O’Leary said that former DAA Chief Executive Dalton Philips “threw labour” at the problem but that the Airport only got through it “by the skin of their teeth after a very poor March, April, May.”

“We are very concerned about the Dublin Airport staffing this Christmas and again, they need to start recruiting now for Easter next year.

“We are concerned and I’ll put it no stronger than that.”

When asked by Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú whether Dublin Airport could face issues next summer, O’Leary said that the main concern was around security staff shortages this Christmas and beyond.

“If they don’t recruit now in significant numbers, we may be short again at Easter and repeat next summer.

“Now, I think they’ll get through it but if we move early, we’re not talking about a lot of additional security staff, so there’s really no reason why we should have those issues

“It’s a logistical recruitment challenge.”

In response to O’Leary’s comments, Graeme McQueen, Media Relations Manager for the DAA said:

“DAA continues to recruit, as it has done continuously over the past 12 months, for a number of roles at Dublin Airport.

“Our concerted recruitment campaign, including our recent Jobs Fair which attracted more than 800 potential candidates, is aimed at generating a strong pipeline of potential candidates for the roles we have available, enabling us to meet both the current and future needs of the business.”

O’Leary also told the Committee that the growth of Ireland’s aviation industry is dependent on “efficient airport facilities”

He called for an “ambitious growth strategy” which develops airport terminal facilities, alongside the cancellation of a proposed €200 million runway tunnel at Dublin airport.

Last month, Ryanair lodged an objection to plans by DAA to construct a 700-metre long tunnel under the 16/34 runway.

The airline said the runway would “contribute towards an excessively high per passenger price cap and damage the recovery of Irish aviation”.

Speaking at the Committee, O’Leary said that building the tunnel would be “a waste” of €200 million and accused the DAA of wasting expenditure.

“It [DAA] currently proposes to waste €200 million building a tunnel under a taxiway that is absolutely unnecessary in Dublin Airport, that no airline needs and certainly doesn’t serve any customer.

O’Leary also said it was “remarkable” that the National Aviation Policy hasn’t been updated since February 2019 “given the existential threats faced by Irish aviation” off the back of the pandemic and the continuing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Ryanair CEO also pointed to how Ireland “sits on the periphery of Western Europe, which makes low-cost access vital”.

He also called for a “fairer distribution of EU environmental taxes”.

O’Leary told the Committee that long-haul flights to and from the EU account are exempt from environmental taxes despite accounting “for over 50% of the EU’s aviation carbon emissions” while delivering “just 6% of EU traffic”.

The Ryanair CEO added that a “lower and fairer burden of environmental taxes” could lead to a 50% growth of Irish air traffic over the next five years when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile, O’Leary said he sees “no future” for several Irish airports, including Donegal, Sligo, Galway, and Waterford. 

Tadgh McNally & Diarmuid Pepper
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