Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Dublin Airport During Covid-19 Pandemic

I've been wanting to address this issue since last week, had intended to do it on Monday but didn't get the time. [IMAGE] - What you see are the registered flights (arrivals and departures) from and into Dublin Airport on Monday.



That's it! There are no secret flights with Spanish, Mexican, Romanian, Arabians, Chinese (pick a country) singing along the baggage aisles, dancing the conga or doing 'Rock the Boat' at Dublin airport every day despite the rubbish you hear and read on social media.

As part of this, I reached out to people I know who work at Dublin Airport (public and airside), the DAA, and airline crews to get some feedback.

I assured them I would not use surnames or specifically identify their name to a role or quote.

Peter
Brida
Linda
Chris
Pearse

All of them are either partially working on call and have already accepted they may not get back to a full time job in an industry they love properly until 2021, if ever. One of them has already brought forward his early retirement, another, 'getting out of the industry' for good'.

The Image

Very briefly: they outline the reasons for the flights in and out on Monday.

NO! You cannot just 'shut down the airport'. Dublin Airport has to stay open and be available as a functioning airport under IATA and ICAO regulations for emergencies, diversions, and National Emergencies. PERIOD. Even on Christmas Day if there are no commercial and passenger flights. The world does not stand still because we are all having a holiday or self-isolating. It is deemed a critical part of our national infrastructure.

Where do you think that flower pot, curtain rail, tin of paint, pack of laminated flooring, Pot Noodle, Mars Bar, bog roll, new tech device, etc... came from? Yes, a warehouse, but there is only so much we have here and not everything can be sourced and brought in from a truck in Ireland, some of it... a lot actually, has to come via ferry-port or air-cargo. So ports and airports still have to be staffed and function.

Monday Flights

I'm not going to labour this - quickly...

Donegal, Kerry, (and Cork)... are all a regional cargo hub. With restrictions... it's easier to move cargo by air if possible than the multiple handling with trucks. It is a critical supply for An Post because they have core supply sorting chains in those areas, particularly for parcel movement (Portlaois, Letterkenny).

Irish restrictions primarily cover international travel, but not essential regional air travel when needed - cargo, medical evac to Beaumont or Crumlin Hospitals. These routes are covered by the dedicated Aer Lingus Regional crew operating the prop ATR-42. Throughout the past weeks they have ferried PPE from Dublin Airport, critical patients, bereaved relatives, HSE, NPHET staff, and surgeons back and forth. I can assure you, for the passengers, there were no passengers heading to Dublin with suntan for a happy holiday.

No one is happy with the situation in the UK, least Aer Lingus and RyanAir. But the regulation fuckers over there are actually threatening to withdraw flight slots to Glasgow, Manchester, London City, Gatwick, Heathrow and Liverpool if AL and RY don't keep up at least a limited flight in. The aircraft goes over early morning, often one or two, does the rounds of the UK (Dublin - London - Manchester) and Scotland and returns back to Dublin. IATA insist that if a slot is allocated and a flight takes place, that airline must accept passenger bookings. Mostly, they are empty or next to empty. They are what is called 'holding' or 'repositioning' flights just to suffice regulations.

DAA

Dublin pax traffic is about 250-500 per day. I asked the DAA what was the breakdown and where on earth these idiots were going. ANSWER - (Monday figures), regional emergency travel (40 + 25 med evac and HSE, NPHET operations), + ex-pats returning from US and UK. It took me a while to push on a clear answer.

"The US flights are pushing the numbers up. They're screwed and coming home." To paraphrase - they have been laid off in NY and Boston, some illegal, overstayed visa, some not, and just scared, have no health insurance, get no US rescue payment as non-citizen, and they just want to get out and come home with no job and nothing.

Most have been in contact with the Irish Embassy and organised travel. I'm not going to judge anyone. But it does appear more and more Irish in the past weeks are done with the US system.

AL PILOT 1

Mostly we are doing cargo - Boston, New York and Chicago. A few ex-pats on a day. It's surreal. I had 3 passengers and a dog on an A330 last week!

AL PILOT 2

I'd never been to China before this. Six times in four weeks and I can't tell my grandkids anything about the place!

CREW

We are not allowed to disembark on arrival. We're out there and back ... no fun, really. The joy is gone.... [very long struggled pause] This has broken me and my family, literally.... I'm done in September.

(RyanAir) My dad did the bus depots in Cork and Dublin in maintenance. I got the travel thing from him... he was all over the country... It's a bit like that now. Just... I dunno... traveling with no one to go nowhere. It's the silence that gets you. Weird. I've never experienced that on a flight with a few people and you just don't know what journey they are on. I've just stopped asking because we all feel bad. I hate when the phone rings.... and I know it's work and I am senior crew....

Dublin Airport Security

Christmas Day is busier! I'd [expletive] dare anyone to come down here and take a look for themselves, but I'd lose my job LOL!

Dublin Airport continues to take international cargo flights from DHL, Hainan, Qatar, United Airlines and other freighters.... but please understand that they are cargo flights. They are not going to appear on a Dublin Airport arrival board because they are not passenger flights.

No one condones what occurred on a RyanAir flight with workers for Keelings Fruit. That should never have been allowed. It was an outrageous abuse of loopholes for a charter flight.

Likewise the recent packed AL flight from Belfast-London. But please understand that the UK have their own guidelines. The Irish aviation authorities or government have absolutely no authority over a flight from or to the UK mainland from Northern Ireland regardless of what airline operates it.

This is a problem with the charter contracts and outside routes both airlines are taking on and it places all their staff in an unacceptable position.

[On the day I did this snapshot, Aer Lingus at 8pm had 5 A330s in the air. 4 on the way into Beijing to pick up more PPE and one heading into Western Europe on the way back. The Irish Air Corps is also running almost daily flights into Munich, Germany with test samples for processing]

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