Passengers at Manchester Airport should expect to wait up to an hour and a half due to understaffing, bosses have warned. Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Manchester Airports Group, urged departing travelers to arrive three hours before their flight to avoid missing it.
Passengers have faced long delays and chaotic scenes in recent weeks, with queues outside the terminals to reach check-in counters and hordes of people waiting to pass through security and collect their luggage. Airport general manager Karen Smart resigned on Tuesday.
After cutting thousands of jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, the aviation industry in general is suffering from difficulties recruiting staff and waiting for security checks to be passed on to new employees. There has also been a recent increase in staff illnesses related to the coronavirus.
Pressure on airlines and airports has increased due to the surge in travel demand during the Easter school holidays.
In an open letter, Mr Cornish said: “The simple fact is that we currently do not have the number of staff we need to provide the level of service our passengers deserve. Despite our efforts since the fall Last, the tight labor market around the airport meant that we simply weren’t able to hire people quickly enough to build a full team.”
Lack of staff means the airport cannot open all of its security lanes, leading to long queues.
“While we still expect most passengers to get through in less than 30 to 40 minutes, there will be times over the next few months when wait times increase to between 60 and 90 minutes,” Ms. Cornish. “We understand that people feel anxious about missing their flight when they see queues of this length.
“So at this time we advise passengers to arrive at the airport three hours before their flight departs, to allow plenty of time to check in, clear security and reach the gate. “
The chief executive said the airport faces ‘one of the toughest job markets we’ve seen’, with more than half of proposed candidates finding vacancies elsewhere before the process is complete. aviation verification. But the airport expects around 250 new security guards to start work in early May.
Mr Cornish added he ‘cannot apologize enough for the disruption people have faced’ and insisted ‘we will soon be back where we need to be’. British Airways and easyJet recently canceled a total of more than 100 daily flights, and passengers at Heathrow and Birmingham airports have also complained of long queues.
Aviation watchdog, the Civil Aviation Authority, has warned airlines that late cancellations and excessive delays “are not only distressing to affected consumers, but can impact levels of trust in the industry”.
In a letter, chief executive Richard Moriarty acknowledged that many carriers are in the process of recruiting large numbers of staff but “it is clear that this has not always happened quickly enough to cope with the increase in travel passengers in recent days”. He wrote: “Given the consequences for passengers of canceled and disrupted journeys, I encourage you to do all you can to ensure that you have the necessary level of properly trained and authorized staff resources.”
He added that it is “very important” that airlines establish schedules “on a basis which is deliverable given the available staff (including contractors), and which is resistant to staff illnesses, including Covid”. Mr Moriarty also wrote to airports, calling on them to ‘work closely with airlines’ to ensure ‘disruption is kept to a minimum’.