Return 4200 lost bags at Dublin airport “how to climb a sand dune”

The committee was told that there are nearly 4,200 lost bags at Dublin Airport and it is “like trying to climb a sand dune” to return all the luggage to the owners as the busy summer period continues.

The Oireachtas Transportation Committee also learned that the Defense Force will not be required to assist the airport due to a Covid-related staffing shortage that is less than expected.

In recent months, passengers have complained about long queues at the airport, flight delays and cancellations, and lost luggage, especially on connecting flights.

There have also been complaints about cleanliness and poor food and drink after passengers clear security as international travel recovered faster than expected following the Covid-19 emergency.

Some airlines even choose on a daily basis which flights they are not going to load because they don’t have the resources either.Gerard Kenny

Darren Moloney, Managing Director of Sky Handling Partner (SHP), told the committee that the ground handling company has 2,897 lost bags at Dublin Airport that need to be returned to their owners.

He said his firm can process 350 bags a day and it will take two weeks to clear that amount and reunite them with their owners, but it still receives another 270 every day.

Tony Tully, Swissport’s director of ground operations for the UK and Ireland, told the committee that “less than 100” passengers were waiting to collect their luggage from Dublin Airport and the firm expects most of them to be returned within the next week.

The committee learned that Swissport and SHP handle about 10% of baggage at Dublin Airport each, while Ryanair and Aer Lingus handle the remaining 80%.

The committee learned that Aer Lingus has about 1,200 lost bags at the airport, with a handling capacity of 700 bags a day and about 450 new bags arriving daily.

SHP’s Gerard Kenny said one of the reasons the amount of lost luggage is so high is staffing problems at European airports and airlines, resulting in some flights arriving “with no luggage… at all.”

“Some airlines even choose on a daily basis which flights they are not going to load because they don’t have the resources either. Luckily we didn’t have that from Dublin, to my knowledge, and certainly not from ourselves.

“But that means right now it’s like trying to climb a sand dune in Dublin – once we start making some progress on luggage, another plane could come in with 60 bags missing, or potentially without all of their bags.”

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Line of people at Dublin Airport (Dominic McGrath/PA)

Mr Moloney added that DAA (Dublin Airport Authority) and SHP have found a safe location near Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 where teams can handle bags for local courier or flight delivery.

Representatives from Aer Lingus, DAA, Swissport and SHP appeared before the committee on Tuesday to answer questions about the issues passengers are experiencing.

Mr Moloney told TD and Senators that the amount of “underloaded” bags from international hubs that feed Dublin’s airport, such as London Heathrow Airport and Amsterdam Schippoll, “has been unprecedented and continues to be extremely challenging.”

“Some European airports have introduced restrictions on the number of passengers or flights to minimize disruptions until the end of the summer season. In addition, the schedules of some airlines have been reduced and this is expected to help reduce, but not eliminate, cases of underloaded baggage.”

The Committee learned that there are no plans to impose a limit on the number of flights or passengers at Dublin Airport.

Two luggage handling firms said experienced employees leaving for “more stable jobs” during the pandemic, as well as new enhanced background checks required for staff, have led to retention and hiring problems.

“Recently introduced in January 2022, enhanced background checks brought the airport’s approval and ID process to a complete halt, effectively resulting in no staff being hired in the first three months of the year,” Mr. Tully said in his introductory remarks.

Faced with this statement by Independent Senator Gerard Crowell, Mr Tully said that many employees voluntarily went into cargo logistics “because there was a high demand for it” as Swissport lost 80% of its operations and SHP lost 75%.

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Aer Lingus CEO Lynn Embleton (Oireachtas TV/PA)

In response to questions about the flight cancellations, Aer Lingus chief executive Lynn Embleton told the committee that the company has one of the most “reliable” schedules in Europe, with 98% of flights operating as planned in June and almost 100% in May.

“Therefore, the vast majority of our customers and their luggage have been successfully delivered,” Ms. Embleton said.

DAA Managing Director Vincent Harrison said it is “generally” correct to say that it will be mid-August before the airport returns to normal operations, and that with Covid-related absenteeism at less than 10%, the Force is expected to defense is not required. to help.

“We are quite confident that we will be able to maintain the level of service that we provide at the moment,” he said.

“I think there was a common theme in all of these statements: no one is satisfied with the overall level of service that was provided, and we are not satisfied with the overall level of service that is provided in areas such as cleanliness.

“But as we promised in our previous session, we focused on the highest priority areas, which early on was making sure people didn’t miss their flights.”