As summer travel disruptions continue at Dublin Airport the Irish government is stepping in to help. Responding to a request from the Dublin Airport Authority to the Minister for Transport, the Cabinet endorsed a plan to boost staffing with Defence Forces. Members will undergo training immediately and “stand ready to assist if the need arises,” per a statement from Minister for Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D.
The statement from Coneney continues:
While I recognise that the role of the Defence Forces is not normally to assist in the provision of services for a commercial airport, I have agreed to this request on a clear assurance that this is a distinct piece of work, provided in extreme circumstances, as a short-term emergency related contingency action and is in direct response to a letter from DAA management to the Minister for Transport. The request is clearly defined in terms of the role and timeline, lasting no more than six weeks, in non-public facing duties. Over the last number of days, I consulted with the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy on this request.
One critical facet of the Defence Force involvement is that it will not be in passenger-facing roles. Presumably the soldiers will handle checked baggage screening, and the staff currently operating those systems will shift to the passenger checkpoints to increase the number of lanes operating.
The airport says it needs the help as it has been unable to hire and train new staff quickly enough to staff appropriately for the level of demand. Dublin is one of several airports struggling to meet travel demand this summer. Some passengers have faced wait times of several hours in recent weeks. The airport has also moved to establish queuing facilities outside, as lines just to enter the terminals have grown.
An airport spokesperson clarifies that move “is purely a contingency and there are no plans for this to happen unless it absolutely has to.” It is unclear how long it would take for the military staff to respond to such a request once the training is complete.
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