Minister Requests Defence Forces' Help At Dublin Airport

By Dave Simpson
Minister Requests Defence Forces' Help At Dublin Airport

At a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 28 June, the government supported a request from Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan for members of the Defence Forces to undergo training and be on stand-by to assist the DAA with the provision of aviation security duties at Dublin Airport, according to a statement published on Gov.ie.

Statement By Minister Ryan

The statement published on Gov.ie said, "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.

"Members of our Defence Forces will undergo an immediate period of training and stand ready to assist if the need arises. However, this 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."

DAA Confident In Its Plan To Avoid Flight Cuts This Summer

Meanwhile, in a statement published on DublinAirport.com, DAA management said that it is confident in its current plan, which saw 93% of all passengers spend 45 minutes or less queuing at Dublin Airport's security screening areas during the first three weeks of June and 77% of passengers queuing for 30 minutes or less, and that, over the past weekend, which was the busiest that Dublin Airport has experienced since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 91% of the 50,000 to 55,000 passengers that departed from Dublin Airport each day cleared security screening in under 45 minutes.

The DAA said that while capacity reductions, which have been deployed at other UK and European airports, have been considered as a possible option, there is general agreement that such an option is undesirable, so the Dublin Airport has outlined to the overnment that a prudent contingency at this juncture could be for the state authorities and DAA to take initial steps to facilitate the training of Defence Forces personnel at the airport's vehicle control posts, should it be necessary. The DAA continued that, as a first phase, it outlined that the state could take preparatory steps in the immediate term to train and prepare Defence Forces personnel for such a deployment, should there be significant COVID-19-related absences among the DAA's own security team, and any deployment of Defence Forces personnel would only be triggered as a second phase, if necessary due to an outbreak of COVID-19.

The DAA added that in response to recent significant security queuing challenges at Dublin Airport, it has put in place a comprehensive operational plan to avoid a repeat of such challenges, which includes a redoubling of recruitment, training, and certification efforts; a redeployment of all available security staff from other activities at the airport; the securing of additional screening staff from Cork Airport; the delivery of attractive overtime incentives; the deployment a company-wide task force of approximately 650 office-based and senior management staff; the delivery of queue management and access control improvements; the introduction of a contingency "triage" queuing process to manage any potential overflow; and the delivery of a wide range of other process improvements, passenger experience, resourcing and communications initiatives.

Ryanair Welcomes Request For Defence Forces' Support

Following the publication of the above statements, Ryanair published a statement on Corporate.Ryanair.com that said it has welcomed the government's decision to use the Defence Forces to help with passenger security processing at Dublin Airport.

The statement published on Corportate.Ryanair.com included a statement from Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson that said, "Ryanair welcomes the Irish [government's] decision to use the Defence Forces to support DAA Airport Security. This is a hugely positive step forward for Irish passengers who have had to deal with uncertainty and long delays especially at the start of the summer season.

"The Defence Forces will free up 100 of the DAA's security staff who have done a great job but need the support of the Army particularly at weekends so that passengers and families can get through the airport quickly and enjoy a well-deserved break."

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