Aer Lingus had to cancel 13 flights yesterday and another three today due to air traffic control strikes in France, Italy and Spain as well as an outbreak of Covid-19 among its staff.

The airline has apologised for the cancellations.

Following the previously announced cancellation of a flight from Dublin and Brussels at 18:45, the airline cancelled a flight from Dublin to Frankfurt at 16:45 and from Dublin to London Gatwick at 17:55, as well as their return flights from those destinations.

A flight from Nantes to Dublin (EI539) was also cancelled.

In a statement, Aer Lingus said it had anticipated the return of demand for travel once Covid restrictions were removed and had built appropriate buffers into its plans in order to deal with a reasonable level of additional disruption.

"This weekend, system pressures from ATC strikes, and ongoing issues at airports and among third party suppliers have regrettably necessitated the cancellation of some flights," the airline said.

"This pressure on the system has been compounded by a spike in Covid cases among our own teams in the last number of days," it added.

The airline, which is owned by IAG, said that where cancellations have occurred, it sought to re-accommodate disrupted passengers on the next available alternative service.

Graeme McQueen, the daa's media relations manager, said today that from an airport point of view "everything has been running fairly smoothly".

Mr McQueen said that 200,000 passengers passed through the airport over the past four days, making it the busiest weekend since 2019.

Speaking to RTÉ's News at One, he said that while there are issues around baggage, the daa does not look after baggage.

"A lot of airlines, a lot of baggage handling firms are short of staff. A lot of bags aren't making it onto planes coming into Dublin, so there are a lot of delays there," he said.

"We'd encourage anyone who is experiencing those delays to get in touch with the airline to see if they can get that remedied as soon as possible," he stated.

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Looking ahead to the coming weeks, Mr McQueen said that it is going to be busy, but the daa has got its "operation in a reasonably good place".

"What we've done over the last few weeks is build more contingency into the system, so that if things do go a little astray on any given day, we've got options available to us," he said.

He said that recruitment is "moving well" and the daa is on track to have over 900 security staff in place by the end of June. It also aims to hire another 100 during July.

Issues regarding cleanliness are also ongoing at the airport. This is also attributed to staff shortage, Mr McQueen said.

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Meanwhile, Ryanair said that less than 2% of its flights scheduled between Friday and yesterday were affected by cabin crew strikes, the airline said.

Ryanair cabin crew unions in Belgium, Spain, Portugal, France and Italy had announced plans for action over the weekend with crews in Spain set to strike again on June 30 and July 1-2.

"Less than 2% of Ryanair's 9,000 flights operating this weekend (24/25/26 June) have been affected by minor and poorly supported crew strikes," Ryanair said in a statement.

Unions have said the airline does not respect local labour laws covering issues such as the minimum wage and have urged management to improve working conditions.

Ryanair, which told Reuters last week it had negotiated labour agreements covering 90% of its staff across Europe, says it offers staff competitive and fair conditions.

It has said it does not expect widespread disruption this summer.

'A lot of confusion' at airport gate, says passenger

Siobhán Murphy was among the passengers who was at the boarding gate for the 17:55pm Aer Lingus flight to London Gatwick when it was cancelled this evening.

Ms Murphy said there was "a lot of confusion" and "very poor communication".

She said that initially the Aer Lingus app showed that the flight had been delayed.

Then around the time the flight was due to take off, she said a member of staff advised them that there would be a 45-minute delay.

Shortly afterwards, Ms Murphy said the Dublin Airport app showed that the flight was cancelled and information about the flight disappeared from the airport screens detailing departures.

Ms Murphy said it was around 19:15pm when a second airline staff member confirmed to them that the flight had indeed been cancelled.

"That's when all hell broke loose," she said.

Ms Murphy said that some passengers ran towards other gates when advised that there were "a few remaining seats" on another flight to Gatwick and on a flight to Heathrow in London.

"We saw all these people nearly stampede, they all started running in the opposite direction."

She said that those who were waiting to board the cancelled flight included "elderly people... there was a couple with a newborn baby, there was a woman travelling with a toddler by herself".

Ms Murphy said that the airline since offered her a lunchtime flight to Manchester tomorrow, and a connecting flight from Manchester to Gatwick airport on Wednesday morning.

However the Dublin woman who lives in London and is due in work tomorrow, said she booked her own alternative flight out of Dublin airport with another airline tonight at a cost of €400.

"I said I'm in Dublin airport now, I've been here since 3pm, I'm getting to London tonight come hell of high water.

"I'm much luckier than a lot of people who are going for connecting flights, I am from Dublin, I could have gone home to my family home, but it's just the ordeal of having to go back through all of this tomorrow and no guarantee you'll get to fly tomorrow either, so I just said... I'll do everything I can to get out."