Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Questions (106)

Maureen O'Sullivan


106. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way in which he can address the continued complaints of persons that deem the length of queue times for Dublin Airport passport control unsatisfactory; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26840/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department, who operate the front line Immigration Service at Dublin Airport, that over 90% of all passengers are processed through immigration control in a matter of minutes. This percentage figure is significantly higher for Irish passengers and passengers of other EU nationalities. This data is provided by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) who monitor overall passenger movements through the airport.

This is in the context of passenger numbers at Dublin Airport reaching record levels last year with over 31.5 million passengers using the airport. Throughput times compares very favourably with airports in other similar jurisdictions. The number of complaints received directly by INIS in relation to delays is extremely small considering the overall volume of passengers per annum.

To cater for the increase in numbers, additional Immigration Officers have been recruited for Dublin Airport and the allocation of personnel is designed to have the maximum number of staff on duty during the peak periods so that all available immigration booths are operational at these times. Every effort is made by Immigration Officers to exercise their function as speedily as possible, consistent with the requirement to protect Irish borders and facilitate the movement of legitimate passengers.

In addition, automatic border control ‘eGates’ have been operational at Dublin Airport since November 2017. Over 2.5 million passengers availed of the eGates in 2018, including 1.3 million Irish passport holders. So far in 2019, over 700,000 passengers have availed of the eGates. The eGates in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 have recently been upgraded to facilitate speedier processing and passengers with Irish passport cards can now avail of them.

However, as with all major airports, specific pressure points can arise, often outside of the control of the immigration authorities, that can lengthen the time it takes for passengers to be processed. For example, this arises when a very high number of flights arrive within a specific time period, with consequent increases to passenger numbers during these peak times. This situation can be compounded when, in addition to scheduled arrivals, delayed flights also land during these peak periods.

While the immigration authorities at Dublin Airport have no control over the number of flights, their scheduling or actual arrival times, they have an excellent relationship with the DAA and with air carriers. All parties work closely together across a number of fronts to address capacity and queue management where they arise to alleviate congestion, to maximise passenger throughput, and ensure waiting times are kept to a minimum.