The empirical evidence available to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department, who operate the front line immigration service at Dublin airport, shows that the vast majority of arriving passengers are immigrated in a matter of minutes. Information supplied by Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) relating to time taken for arriving passengers to be immigrated shows that over 90% of all travellers are processed through immigration control in a matter of minutes. This percentage figure is significantly higher for passengers of EU nationalities. This is in the context of passenger numbers at Dublin Airport reaching record levels last year with almost 30 million passengers using the airport and compares very favourably with other modern airports in other jurisdictions.
I am also advised by INIS that the number of complaints it directly receives in relation to delays is extremely small - on average 60 per annum or to put it another way, 0.0004% of inbound passengers in 2017. It is the case that sometimes social media is used by passengers to raise concerns. On occasions when INIS has examined some of this coverage, it often transpires that passengers measure the time taken to clear all aspects of the arrival process, including embarking from the aircraft, baggage collection, customs, etc. with the immigration process only accounting for a portion of this period.
However, there are specific pressure points outside of the control of the immigration authorities that can create some delay. Typically, this arises when a very high number of flights arrive within a specific time period (which occurs at Terminal 1 in the late evening period) with consequent increases to passenger numbers within these peak times. This situation can be compounded when, in addition to scheduled arrivals, delayed flights also land during these peak periods.
Additional immigration officers have been recruited for the 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. The number of available booths is a function of the physical infrastructure at each Terminal. Every effort is made by immigration officers to exercise their function as speedily as possible consistent with the requirement to protect our borders and facilitate legitimate travellers.
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 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.
I might add that automatic border control ‘eGates’ have been operational at Dublin Airport since 30 November last. The eGates are open to Irish and EU e-passport holders over the age of 18 and it is planned that their use will be extended to other categories of passengers as the programme develops. While their purpose is primarily an immigration control facility, they do have the effect of contributing overall to increased immigration processing capacity, particularly during spikes in passenger arrivals.