Not entirely normal: Airport chaos reflects the economy after Covid struggling to find its level

Not entirely normal: Airport chaos reflects the economy after Covid struggling to find its level


Dublin Airport queues this Sunday.

Source: Eamonn Farrell /

RIGHT OR WRONG, it is often said that a country’s largest airport is a microcosm of its economy as a whole.

In David McWilliams The Generation Game in In 2007, the Irish celebrity economist began the book by describing how the then airport in Dublin was about to burst at the seams of the Celtic tiger economy.

Then the building continued Dublin Airport T2 had not yet started and the shiny new part of T1 over the long sky bridge was not finished either.

Now that section is almost exclusively home to Ryanair, but in 2007, Ryanair’s expanding passenger base was forced into a literal temporary prefab called Pier D.

The image of a temporary prefab playing home to the fastest growing airline in the world is about as perfect a parable for the 2007 Irish economy as one can muster.


Then taoiseach Bertie Ahern opened the new pier in T1 2007.


Fast forward to 2022 and once again the airport shows what is happening in business and society.

The chaos that occurred last week When passengers were forced to stand in line for hours and 1,400 people missed flights, a direct result was that demand for Covid returned faster than companies had met.

There are many valid questions about whether DAA could has met demand through smarter planning or fewer layoffs, but the reality is that it did not. In fact, the company has acknowledged it itself, with the CEO Dalton Philips said the company was “completely wrong” in estimating the number of passengers Dublin Airport would be dealing with this summer.

How wrong were they? Well, Philips said industry experts had predicted that the number of passengers in 2022 would remain at an average of 70% of what they were in 2019. On the basis of these predictions, the DAA planned for 75% but what we are now seeing is the number of passengers 95% of what they were before Covid.

“To put this in context, the airport handled an average of almost 16,500 extra passengers every day during May, as no one in the industry had predicted six months ago,” Philips told angry TDs on Wednesday.

Dublin Airport VD 004

DAA’s CEO Dalton Philips.

Source: Leah Farrell /

However, the DAA is not the only one struggling with demand, as the hospitality sector is particularly vocal about its difficulties in getting the show back on the road to Covid.

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And we are entering the first full summer festival season in three years, there will certainly be questions about whether the organizers are as organized as they could get the staff shortage.

There are tens of thousands of vacancies in bars, hotels and restaurants across the country and employers have said it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit new staff.

Last week, Adrian Cummins, president of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), controversially questioned why there were 150,000 people unemployed in Ireland during a staffing crisis.

Many have suggested that this could be remedied within the industry itself with better pay and conditions hospitality workers themselves tell Journals that the pandemic has given them room for a much-needed assessment of their priorities.

What is clear from all this is that the economy is still trying to find its balance.

Covid was once a century shocked at how everyone works and lives and even though it may seem like everything is back to normal again, this is clearly not the case. Not yet at least.

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