Passenger numbers are fast approaching record levels Dublin Airport Before the Easter weekend, managers are struggling to fill up to 700 positions.
At least 500,000 passengers are expected to pass through the airport by Monday, when the Easter holiday begins in earnest.
Cork-based staff have been drafted in to deal with the flood as the number of people moving through the airport’s fringes is near 2019 levels.
Former security screening officers working in other capacities for Dublin Airport Authority and their colleagues on career breaks are asked to consider short-term positions.
Overtime is offered to induce employees to work overtime.
The HR team is trying to speed up candidate selection after launching an aggressive recruiting campaign due to the staffing crisis.
An additional 300 security screening staff are needed to meet demand.
The authority is in the process of filling almost 700 positions across all areas.
Huge queues have accompanied a surge in international travel unforeseen by even the most optimistic forecasts.
Passengers are making up for lost time and lockdown’s 5km travel restrictions after being free of restrictions rather abruptly earlier this year.
The great escape is likely to intensify during the busy summer season as hundreds of thousands of people seek a getaway after two years of Covid restrictions.
The Dublin Airport Authority said passenger numbers are already at least 90 percent of the record levels set three years ago, when 33 million passengers passed through the airport.
It advises people to arrive at the terminals up to three and a half hours before departure this weekend, but not too early as this will make queues worse. In other words, if you fly from 8:30 a.m., then don’t show up until 5:00 a.m.
“We expect around 250,000 passengers to depart Dublin Airport between today and Monday,” said a DAA spokesman. “A similar number of people are expected by arrivals.
“Each of these days we will see between 40,000 and 50,000 departing passengers.
“While we bring our new security staff on board, the Dublin Airport Authority is focused on keeping the maximum number of security gates open at all times and having the greatest possible number of security personnel on site so that we can meet the demands of the many passengers arriving in will be flying with us in the coming weeks and months.”
Revised rules for random swab tests on passenger bags have been reported to have slowed things down – but the DAA declined to comment on that.
Others claim certain airlines only opened their checked baggage counters three hours before departure, despite telling passengers to arrive three and a half hours in advance.
The number of passengers who missed flights due to recent queue-related delays is unknown. Dublin Airport Authority’s customer service team work through the correspondence to arrive at a number.
A spokesman said very few did not make it to the boarding gates on time in the first two weeks of this month and they could request refunds.
Some passengers take no chances. An airport worker recalls a passenger showing up at 6 or 7am when long lines formed outside the terminal buildings.
“One of the security guys asked what time her flight was,” he said.
“They said ‘I don’t fly until 10’ and he said ‘Ah, you have plenty of time to get a coffee’ – but it turns out they were leaving at 10pm, not 10am.
“People just got scared and showed up way too early for flights.”
Airport authorities across Europe, the United States, Australia and the UK are struggling to recover from the collapse in global travel.
Dublin Airport spokesman said the surprisingly quick lifting of Covid regulations has sparked a huge desire to travel again, leaving little time to adapt.
“In terms of passenger numbers, Dublin Airport went from 100 per cent to 5 per cent and then back to over 80 per cent in two years – and we are now poised to achieve over 90 per cent of our record traffic from 2019 in 2022,” said he.
Predictions from global consulting firms as recently as March said aviation would not recover until 2024 or 2025. The DAA was taken by surprise.
A chronic shortage of security personnel is the key factor behind the current difficulties.
In the last two years, 248 security employees had voluntarily resigned.
The number of staff in the airport search unit and broader security team prior to the emergence of Covid in February 2020 was 858.
By February of this year it was down to 622, but there was also a 95 percent drop in passengers, so it wasn’t as noticeable until long queues were reported around St. Patrick’s Day.
The image of a career in aviation as a secure job for life has been tarnished by the uncertainty of the pandemic, with many workers suddenly finding themselves on government welfare. Coupled with a tight labor market, these are factors that can be expected to create a perfect hiring storm.
Added to this are wages and working conditions at the airport.
Taoiseach Michael Martin said he wanted “a more worker-friendly approach” and promised to discuss the terms offered with the DAA.
Security guards on permanent contracts are guaranteed 30 hours, but may have to work up to 40 hours, in which case they may earn overtime. Seasonal contracts guarantee 20 hours a week and have come under criticism for requiring staff to be available for up to 40 hours. The starting salary is €14.14 per hour and rises to €20.93. There are pension and profit-sharing plans and a discounted canteen.
Union officials believe the wage rates introduced when Terminal 2 opened are about 30 percent lower than those of longer-term workers. A salary claim of 7 percent was filed, according to Siptu officials, although they are expected to ask for up to 15 percent due to an older outstanding claim.
Siptu’s industry organizer, Jerry Brennan, said many service providers, including groundhandling companies, have had difficulty hiring new people, even those firms that are increasing entry-level wages.
“This Easter weekend, the number of passengers who want to drive away is generally increasing,” he said. “The children have no school. People might want to go and have a little vacation. Our members are under enormous pressure to carry out their duties, not just the airport security staff.
“The same goes for the cleaning staff. There is still a lot left over in voluntary handling and the airport is no smaller.”
There seems to be a lot of candidates left for the latest job openings. The DAA says it received more than 4,000 applications. This week and last week, 500 candidates were invited for interviews.
It will not immediately hit the ground in boots. The training program lasts five or six weeks. In addition, security clearance may take many more weeks due to increased Garda screening and background checks required by EU legislation.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/scramble-to-fill-700-jobs-as-500000-passengers-to-descend-on-dublin-airport-41555621.html Fight to fill 700 jobs as 500,000 passengers land at Dublin Airport