An deireadh seachtaine seo caite, chonaic muid radhairc dhochreidte ag Aerfort Bhaile Átha Cliath nuair a bhí paisinéirí ag fanacht taobh amuigh den fhoirgneamh aerfoirt ar feadh uaireanta fada. Chaill níos mó ná 1,400 duine a n-eitiltí dá bharr. Ní raibh 1,400 ábalta a n-eitiltí a fháil. Ba náire náisiúnta é gur tharla a leithéid ag an deireadh seachtaine, ag déanamh dochair dár gclú agus ag cur isteach ar phleananna daoine a d'íoc as a gcuid eitiltí. Mar Aire Iompair, tá an Teachta Ryan freagrach as sin agus níor tugadh cuntas ar an mhéid a tharla go fóill. Lig Údarás Aerfort Bhaile Átha Cliath 1,000 jab chun bealaigh le bliain go leith. Cén teachtaireacht a chuireann sé amach don phobal mór nach bhfuil an Rialtas ábalta a chinntiú go bhfuil ár n-aerfoirt ábalta feidhmiú i gceart?
Last weekend we witnessed crazy scenes at Dublin Airport, as passengers were forced to wait for hours on end outside the terminal. More than 1,400 people missed flights because of the chaos. It was a national embarrassment that should never have happened. The Minister for Transport is responsible for transport and aviation but he has not been held to account for his role in this.
When the Dublin Airport Authority laid off 1,000 workers, Jerry Brennan of SIPTU told it that it will need to hire people because its queues will extend through the carparks. That is exactly what happened. The Government sanctioned this level of redundancy. Why did it do that? Everyone knew aviation would rebound once the pandemic subsidised, with pent up demand for international travel such as it is, except the Minister and the DAA.
While the DAA is responsible for operations at the airport, the Minister has responsibility for transport strategy. We constantly hear about the strategic importance of Dublin Airport given we live on a small island. It is a small island where connectivity to Europe and the rest of the world is so vital. It is a small island economy in which tourism is so important, supporting jobs, businesses and employment. It is crucial. In 2019 alone, almost 33 million passengers travelled through the airport. Many were tourists, business passengers and people travelling on a well-earned holiday. What does it say to these people that the Government cannot get an international airport to function properly on its watch? What does it say to our tourism sector that relies on Dublin Airport to function properly and a provide a service that tourists can depend on?
I am not convinced by what the DAA had to say yesterday. The wait times it set out are still too long. The idea that passengers would be triaged into some sort of holding areas is embarrassing. The fact that the airport plans to function with security staff levels at 70% of pre-pandemic levels is not acceptable. The Minister has been unable to give an assurance that we will not see scenes like we did last weekend. Frankly, he has been asleep at the wheel right throughout this process only to appear last weekend.
What does the Minister intend to do as Minister responsible for transport and aviation strategy if we witness scenes like we did last weekend happen? Can he say that heads will roll unless things are put right at the airport and passengers have speedy access through the airport and not suffer the indignity and chaos that we saw last weekend?