Passengers encountered few issues at Dublin Airport on Friday, as the busy bank holiday weekend began.
Management reported on Friday that the airport was running “very efficiently”, with a total of 200,000 people set to travel through the airport over the bank holiday weekend.
On Friday afternoon, it appeared that most travellers had avoided the disorder witnessed over the previous weekend with none of the lengthy waiting times or queues outdoors.
Ireland’s busiest airport has been at the centre of a political storm in recent days, after last weekend saw around 1,000 passengers miss flights as lengthy queues extended outside the terminals.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin on Friday said that lessons needed to be learned from the debacle.
DAA, which runs the airport, had admitted that mistakes had been made but has tried to reassure passengers with a host of new measures.
New measures, including the installation of marquees at Terminal 1 for passengers forced to queue outside, have been deployed and extra staff are also now working.
Airport officials reported good progress on Friday afternoon.
A DAA spokesperson said: “Things continue to move well on Friday afternoon as it did this morning.
“Security times continued to remain below 30 minutes as passengers passed through.
“Passengers making use of the bag drop and check-in were filtered through the marquees, however, there was a continuous flow within the marquee.”
DAA CEO Dalton Philips had earlier described a “solid morning” for the airport.
“It is a very busy day – anxious passengers presenting early. Not surprising, given the anxiety out there. Staff have been brilliant.
“It’s a very busy day, it’s going to be a very busy weekend.”
He said that DAA still needs to hire another 100 security officers.
“We are in a very delicate situation because when you are down the required numbers of officers you need like last weekend, which I talked about earlier this week to the Oireachtas, you can find you have a very quick and rapid build-up of queues.
“We are in a very tight situation,” he told RTE radio.
DAA media relations manager Graeme McQueen had insisted on Friday morning that there was no “complacency” among airport management, despite a good start to Friday.
He said the new queuing area outside was used very briefly in the early hours of Friday.
“You’re covered if it rains. It’s going to make that passenger experience a little bit better,” he said.
Describing the current arrangements for passengers, Mr McQueen said: “If you walk up to our terminal building at the moment, there will be a person who will ask you if you have a bag to check in.
“If you do, you’ll be asked to move to the right and go into the door to your right. If you don’t have a bag to check in and you can go straight to security, you’ll flow through to your left.
“We will only use those areas as it starts to get busy,” he told RTE radio.
He said that holding zones for passengers who arrive too early will be used from next week.
“We’ll start constructing them in our short-term car park across the road. So they are the ones that as it gets busier in the summer, we’ll look to use those zones to keep people back, maybe if they have arrived way too early for their flight,” he said.
He said it was “purely a contingency” ahead of the busy summer months.
“We hope not to use it but if we need to it will be a pleasant experience for passengers and it’s all aimed at making sure that everyone makes their flight.”
In advice to passengers, Dublin Airport is asking travellers to arrive two-and-a-half hours before a short-haul flight and three-and-a-half hours before a long-haul flight.
If a bag needs to be checked in, leaving an extra hour is also advised.
When asked whether there should be consequences for DAA management if their operational plan fails this weekend, the Taoiseach said that as a semi-state body, Dublin Airport has a clear legislative framework governing it.
“The management is accountable to the board of the DAA, and the board is accountable to the shareholder, to the Government.
“There’s a change happening anyway, in respect of the chief executive officer position,” Mr Martin added, referring to Mr Philips’s planned departure from the role in the coming weeks.
“Serious questions need to be asked in terms of what has happened here. And serious lessons need to be learned.
“The focus has to be to ensure that Dublin Airport performs to previous standards in respect of the number and volume of passengers that they can accommodate on an ongoing basis and in terms of the treatment of its workers as well, in terms of the various pay issues.
“So that’s where the focus is now,” Mr Martin said, adding that it was “certainly unacceptable” what happened last weekend.
“It’s something we can recover from, but it never helps that events of that kind happen.”