The demand for passports surge

Louise Hickey

The backlog of passport processing has built up to over 30,000 applicants, according to Joe Hackett, the Secretary-General at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Only emergency passports were being processed for the last 18 months.

“As international travel reopens at an increasing pace every day this will create a significant surge in passport applications over the next 12 months as citizens plan and organise foreign travel,” said Hackett.

Airlines are thriving economically by this surge in people booking holidays. Throughout 2021, Aer Lingus noted that out of their 800 pilots, only less than 200 remained at work. The wages of these pilots were split by 50 percent.

According to the 2020 Oireachtas report on the Aviation industry, Ireland West Airport had to make 43 redundancies and place 100 staff on temporary leave throughout the covid-19 pandemic.

Darren O’Rourke, TD and member of the committee on transport, commented on the loss of employment in this sector, “it has been a hugely challenging time for those that have worked in a sector that involves the movement and gathering of people” and “everyone has been affected by covid-19.”

Employment levels in the aviation sector have begun to pick up again. Ryanair has announced multiple new routes, including Madeira, Nuremberg, Nimes in France, and Suceava in Romania. They plan to operate over 900 flights a week to over 120 different destinations during the summer months.

Pre-budget, the Department of Foreign Affairs warned that there may be 1.75 million passport applications this year to process. This is not only due to the backlog, but also the easing of restrictions, allowing people to feel more comfortable in travelling abroad.

The department said they would need an extra €18 million funding. This would include €9 million going towards 300 more full-time staff and a further €9 million going towards passport covers, stationery, etc.  They were looking to increase office space at this time.

They added that this would be the biggest problem faced in 2022. Minister for foreign affairs, Simon Coveney has now said staff will have to double by the end of January.

The Department of Foreign Affairs warns the public not to book flights before receiving your updated passport.

Louise Hickey.