BURGERS and chips for 160 hungry American soldiers were taken under garda escort to Shannon Airport yesterday because the airport restaurant was closed.
'Operation Fast Food' was organised by US Army officers using a fast-food outlet in Shannon town to feed their soldiers as there was no adequate catering facilities at the airport.
As part of cost cutting, the airport management closed the airport's only public bar while also curtailing the opening times of the main restaurant.
Meals are not available to passengers in the Estuary Café after 3pm daily. While a bar remains open 24 hours a day in the departures lounge, it does not serve hot meals.
As a result, arrangements were made by US army officers to transport the food order from the local takeaway in Shannon town to the airport under garda escort.
The American Trans Air flight, which was taking the soldiers back to the US, was delayed for a time at the mid-west airport because of a technical problem.
While the flight was fully catered for the outgoing journey by the airports catering service, the soldiers needed refreshments while they waited at Shannon.
It has also emerged the US military has been forced to take such measures several times in the past number of months.
Local sources confirmed the US military has bought food for troops at Shannon from the same outlet on several occasions.
The Munster rugby team had a similar experience last year when team management was forced to order food from Limerick-based Four Star Pizza prior the squad's departure from Shannon for an away game.