Ireland puts army on standby to help at Dublin airport amid COVID surge

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DUBLIN, June 28 (Reuters) - Ireland agreed on Tuesday to put the army on standby to help with security at Dublin airport should staffing be hit by a resurgence of COVID-19 during the rest of the busy summer travel period.

Ireland's main airport is one of many around Europe that has struggled to hire staff fast enough to deal with a sharp rebound in travel, although it has had relatively few issues since more than 1,000 passengers missed their flights in a single day last month. read more

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again in Ireland, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) asked that members of the defence forces be trained and certified to enable them be put on standby to assist with security duties.

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More than one in four Dublin airport security staff were absent during the last major COVID-19 wave in early 2022, the transport ministry said.

"The defence forces will only be deployed in a scenario where there is a significant deterioration in passenger queuing times with a risk of large numbers of passengers missing their flights," Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said in a statement.

Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport are now at over 90% of 2019 levels and Ryan said the airport expected another 10% increase in coming weeks. The army would only be on standby during July and August, he added.

A spokesman for the DAA said on Monday that the airport was on track to meet its target of having more than 900 security staff in place by the end of June, and hoped to add another 100 in July.

The DAA made 25% of its staff redundant at the height of the pandemic, which its chief executive accepted last month was too grave a cut.

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Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Nick Macfie

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