An Irish aviation record, new security rules at Dublin airport this summer, and all eyes on Asia. Eoghan Corry talks travel this month.
The first Irish aviation record for 2023 will see 17 new routes launch in a single day from Irish airports. More gates and parking spaces are required at Dublin airport, but don’t arrive too early this summer as you may not be allowed join the security queue! Eoghan Corry shares this months travel talking points – what we learned, what’s new and what’s next…
What we learned
This month we learned that those ghosts of summer past, security queues and French air traffic control strikes, are still able to disturb our sleep. Dublin airport say their security problems are many queue-posts behind them and everyone is getting through in twenty minutes nowadays. But can we be sure until we get back to 300 departures a day?
In the meantime the airport has been busy decluttering terminals, adding extra 400 seats and introducing three mobile food outlets that can move to meet the different peaks at different locations of the airport.
With a new runway to handle increased flights, apron and pier space is now an issue. Dublin needs more gates and parking spaces. Turkish airlines passengers are among those to be bussed to their aircraft this summer, instead of using airbridges as they used to.
Drum roll for the first Irish aviation record for 2023, the largest number of new routes to launch in a single day from Irish airports. The eight days over the end of March and beginning of April will bring a cluster of new routes from six Irish airports.
The record is 17 launches on March 26, with five on March 27, two on March 28, four on March 29, one on March 30 and one each on April 1 and 3. Four more will follow at the end of April, ten in May and three in June. A surprising number are not the usual bucket and spade destinations. Anyone for Iași?
Beds not as scarce.
Ireland’s first large hotel since the pandemic will open on April 17, the 393-bed Travelodge Plus Dublin City Centre on Townsend Street. It is a welcome addition to the city centre bed stock which has been in decline for more than 12 years.
There will be 800 new beds available for the peak season, which will open new options and keeps prices in check. Dublin needs them. Government contract beds will not likely be returning in the short term, Ireland’s largest hotel, the 764-bedroom Citywest amongst them.
Beware the early boarding card
The early board catches the worm, as the mammy used to say. No longer. Arriving six hours early at the airport will not be an option this summer. The scanners will be set so as not to allow early passengers through to the security queue. More than four hours early for a short haul flight and the barcode will not work.
It is a solution that Dublin airport have proposed to prevent overcrowding at the departure gates, which was a big problem at the 100 gates used by Ryanair, the old Pier B, when flights piled up last summer. The upside is that it is much easier to get your hands on a coffee and a bun landside than airside at Dublin airport.
Titanic’s surround sound.
The Titanic Centre, Ireland’s eighth most visited attraction, has been working to rid itself of the “one and done” factor and increase repeat visits.
Last month they reopened their final four galleries after a €5m redevelopment, with a specially commissioned musical score and a concert crescendo of a finish designed by Dutch company, Shosho. That sound of the crackling ice will linger in the ears all the way home
Will it start on the Late, Late Show?
Holiday makers love late specials, travel companies hate them. What are the chances this year, when prices for summer 2023 are ahead, 40pc internationally about 20pc in Ireland, of where we were pre pandemic?
Travel agency bookings are stronger than they were pre pandemic, so we are unlikely to see a repeat of last year’s pandemic related slumps in demand that saw firesales on charter flights, but keep an eye on destinations with new low cost competition like Kos and Zakynthos.
Who pays the striker?
Security staff strikes are the headache headline of the month, with four German airports and Heathrow (Easter Monday) affected already and the gréve happy French Air Traffic Control primed to follow.
Ryanair have launched a passenger petition that Eurocontrol should allow overflights over France when they strike, as already happens with Greece, Italy and Spain (where overflights are less an issue). So far Ryanair have had a million passengers with cancelled and delayed flights and 200 of 4,000 cancelled flights have affected Ireland.
There is another reason for airline concern. Some courts are interpreting Eu261 that airlines should pay compensation when the airline is hit by a strike. Adding compensation to the repair bill could add over €100m to the cost of rescheduling flights. Air France’s bill would be even higher. Who pays the striker in the end? Us, dear passenger, us.
Strumming the Qatar
A note for those who may have missed it, since February 1, visitors to Qatar have to buy official state travel insurance to visit the country. Stopover passengers are not affected, but your standard annual insurance is no longer sufficient to get a visa to go through immigration. Let’s hope other countries do not follow.
A third force at Dublin airport
The new CEO of Dublin Airport Kenny Jacobs, thinks his airport is too blue and green. He wants to see a strong airline presence from a third force. Anyone who remembers Easyjet’s entry to Cork, Knock and Shannon and Go’s attempt to go head to head with Ryanair will watch with interest.
All eyes on Asia. The big surprise of last month was China’s decision to open its borders overnight, from total lockdown to open access with no prior warning. Will that bring Dublin’s Chinese routes, Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzen back into play for 2024? Very likely. Prime the chopsticks.
Missed last month’s post?