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airport chaos

Dublin Airport: Defence Forces to come off 'standby' and DAA has not sought extension to deal

Members have been trained to assist with security but have not yet been called in.

THE DEFENCE FORCES will come off standby at Dublin Airport on 15 August when the current arrangement to have them help with security, if needed, lapses.

A deal was struck in June to train members of the Defence Forces to allow them to assist with lengthy queues at security at the airport, after chaotic scenes earlier this summer. 

Soldiers were trained to help out, but no members have been deployed. 

The DAA, which manages Dublin Airport, has not requested an extension to the six-week arrangement, a spokesperson confirmed. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: “The standby period for Defence Forces at Dublin Airport is due to lapse on 15th August 2022.”

The DAA, which came in for sustained criticism over recent months for its handling of the situation at the airport, has insisted good progress is being made in terms of the time it takes passengers to pass through security screening.

“In the final week of July we saw 99% of passengers passing through security in less than 30 minutes, with 100% through in under 45 minutes,” the DAA’s Graeme McQueen told The Journal

This improved performance, which builds on the progress we made during June and the first three weeks of July, is the result of the phenomenal efforts of our staff and the ongoing recruitment of new security personnel.

The DAA has hired 150 new security staff in the past two months, meaning its staffing levels are now back to roughly pre-pandemic levels, McQueen added.

We will continue to hire additional staff over the coming weeks and months as we strive to provide our passengers with the level of service that they expect and deserve.

McQueen confirmed there had been no requests to actually send in members of the Defence Forces to help at the airport. 

Simon Coveney 

In a response to a Parliamentary Question from Sinn Féin TD Ruairí Ó Murchú, Defence Minister Coveney said that while the role of the Defence Forces does not typically involve assisting “the provision of services for a commercial airport”, he agreed to the arrangement on the basis that the situation was a “short-term emergency”.

“The Defence Forces will only be deployed if assistance is requested by the DAA and in a scenario where there is a significant deterioration in passenger queuing times with a risk of large numbers of passengers missing their flights. This assistance has not yet been requested by DAA,” he said.

The support will be stood down in August when the busy holiday period has passed. The DAA have given assurances that they will continue with their own recruitment and onboarding of additional security staff and the introduction of other mitigations during this period.

As air travel returned to normal this year, airlines and airport authorities across Europe have struggled with staff shortages.

Significant queues at Dublin Airport first began to emerge in early April, with the government holding crisis meetings with the airport operator, DAA, on a daily basis over the queues.

The June bank holiday saw chaotic queues for bag drop and security which resulted in 1,400 passengers missing their flights.

Dublin Airport 022 Lengthy queues in Dublin Airport in early June Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

DAA was told to urgently find solutions to extreme delays.

More recently, missing luggage has become a major issue, with third-party baggage handlers telling the Oireachtas Transport Committee that nearly 4,200 bags are waiting to be returned to their owners.

The DAA and Aer Lingus were also grilled by committee members about flight cancellations.

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