DUBLIN, Ireland: After passengers have had to face hours-long screenings, and with the possibility of worsening staffing problems this summer, the army has been placed on alert to provide assistance.
This follows a request by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan for screening assistance after passengers recently stood in lines reaching outside the airport building, but also missed flights because of the delays.
Also, airport officials have voiced concern about the impact on handling passengers if existing screenings staffs were to become infected by Covid.
Members of the defence forces are to undergo training to train passengers, said officials.
However, the standby period for the army is not to extend beyond August, by which time the airport is expected to have hired and trained more staff.
Meanwhile, group head of communications with Dublin Airport, Kevin Cullinane, noted that putting the army on standby was an example of "one State agency assisting another semi-state agency in a moment of crisis."
As an example of how the army night assist, Cullinane said if soldiers were assigned to vehicle control posts at Dublin Airport, it could free up to 100 airport security officers to screen passengers in Terminal One and Terminal Two.
"The public wouldn't necessarily see them, but they would be doing a very important role of checking all vehicles coming in and out of the airport," he added.
Cullinane noted that during the last Covid wave in January, one in four airport security staff became infected.
"While I recognize that the role of the defense 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," added Minister for Defence Simon Coveney.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan added, "If there were a large amount of people who couldn't go to work because of Covid we wanted to make sure we had back-up capacity," as quoted by RTE.
He added that 480 additional Dublin Airport staff have been hired since last October, which he said provides a "buffer."