Airport bosses warn of long queues ‘for weeks’ as they admit staff shortages

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Passengers and staff at Manchester Airport have been struggling with huge queues for Check-in, Security and Passport Control, as well as issues in other departments including baggage reclaim

Long queues at Manchester Airport have been branded
Long queues at Manchester Airport have been branded “ridiculous”

Passengers at Manchester Airport could face queues for ‘several weeks’ to come as bosses admit they are struggling with staff shortages amid a surge in international travel.

The hub is on a major recruitment drive to remedy the crisis and is even looking to ‘work with universities’ to find temporary workers but they have warned long waits could continue well into April.

Karen Smart, managing director of Manchester Airport, told the Manchester Evening News: “We want to apologize to all our customers who have experienced disruption over the last couple of weeks.

“We want to be clear with our customers that getting back to full strength is going to take time and there will unfortunately be periods over the next few weeks when it will take longer to get through the airport than it should.”

Passengers and staff at Manchester Airport have been struggling with huge queues for Check-in, Security and Passport Control, as well as issues in other departments including baggage reclaim.

Some staff have contacted the Manchester Evening News complaining of ‘exhaustion’ amid a heavy workload and diminishing team spirit.







Managing directorKaren Smart
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One employee said: “It’s very under-staffed at the moment, things are diabolical. The entire work environment is shocking. A lot of people were furloughed and made redundant.

“All the companies in the airport just got rid of far too many staff, everyone panicked during the pandemic. Now everything is picking up again, we can’t just get the staff back.

“There’s a lot of staff threatening to leave and a lot that have already left. We’ve just lost loads of staff – had many hand in notices in the last two weeks.”

Earlier this month, it emerged firefighters had been asked to help on the baggage conveyors, while on Friday, a letter was sent to employees asking that they volunteer help out to manage queues.

Up to now, bosses at Manchester Airports Group (MAG) have largely focused their responses to these stories on the easing of restrictions and ‘unexpected’ demand, as well as a large number of bags being rejected at Security.

However, a new statement accepts there are also recruitment and staffing issues.

It says: “The airport is experiencing staff shortages, as it seeks to meet rapidly increasing demand for international travel following the lifting of testing and quarantine requirements in mid-February.”







Suitcases piling up at Manchester Airport’s Terminal 2
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It warns that they are ‘expecting there to be longer security queues than usual for several weeks’.

The airport has begun a major recruitment drive to fill hundreds of roles in its security operation. Other firms, including airlines and ground handlers are on a mission to recruit too.

They are currently looking to hire 400 new recruits, who will then have to undergo the training and security clearance process.

The situation is ‘expected to improve’ through April as the workforce is bolstered. In the meantime, the airport is holding a jobs fair in Wythenshawe on Thursday, looking to recruit ‘temporary’ staff from university student bodies, and ‘developing ways’ for the existing workforce to support operations.

Karen Smart, managing director of Manchester Airport, said: “We want to apologize to all our customers who have experienced disruption over the last couple of weeks. We recognize passengers are really looking forward to getting away, and long queues are clearly not what they want to see when traveling through our airport.”







Manchester Airport apologizes over passenger queues
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Peter Turnbull)

She said Covid-19 had been the ‘biggest crisis’ the industry had faced. She added: “We had to dramatically scale back our operations, with no certainty for a long time about when things would start to get back to normal.

“We want to be clear with our customers that getting back to full strength is going to take time and there will unfortunately be periods over the next few weeks when it will take longer to get through the airport than it should.”

Bosses say that many passengers have not traveled since before the pandemic and are ‘less familiar’ with the rules of what can be taken through security – leading to more manual searches and longer queues.

The airport asks that passengers arrive at the earliest time their airline allows them to check in, and to ensure they are aware of any road or rail disruption that could impact their travel plans.

It also urged passengers to remind themselves of the rules on what is and isn’t allowed in hand baggage to help speed up security processing and reduce queues.







Queues at Manchester Airport
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Ms Smart said: “We want to give customers the best possible experience when they travel through Manchester, and I know people are excited to be flying again after such a long time.

“I want to reassure people that we are working hard to get back to where we need to be, and while queues may be longer than people are used to at times, customers can definitely help us by arriving in good time and ensuring they know exactly what they can and can’t take through security.

“I would like to thank all our colleagues for their dedication during this period of recovery.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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