Council leaders have freed up staff to help with Manchester Airport’s urgent recruitment drive as the hub tackles the staffing crisis and arises in passengers. City hall has confirmed they are assisting with tasks including sifting through job applications and will be ‘supporting’ the interview process in a bid to help resolve the workforce deficit.
The move comes after a turbulent month as staff shortages lead to queues, delays and missed flights for passengers. There are currently two members of staff in Manchester Council’s Human Resources department who have been diverted from their usual duties to help, but it’s understood this could be increased if needed. Council aid is also understood to include promoting and hosting jobs fairs and lobbying the Home Office for assistance in speeding up security vetting for new recruits.
Meanwhile, Andy Burnham yesterday warned disruption was expected to last for two months and asked passengers to arrive three hours before their flights. The Manchester Mayor also revealed how the combined authority would be assisting with measures including extra police presence, transport staff, online queuing information, baggage check-in the night before travel and more ‘welfare’ support for passengers enduring long waits.
READ MORE: It was once a source of pride… but now that’s finished – so why is Manchester Airport in such a mess?
As a majority shareholder in Manchester Airports Group (MAG), Manchester City Council has benefited from dividends from the airport, which amounted to a £600m windfall for the 10 councils in the five years before the pandemic. However, when Covid led to plummeting passenger numbers and a reversal of fortunes, the council made a considerable contribution to a £260m loan to help keep the hub afloat.
It’s an unusual step, however, for city hall to get involved in practical aspects of the hub’s operation. But faced with an onslaught of complaints about queues and missed flights, and growing questions from some quarters as to why the council had not been more involved, council leader Bev Craig issued a statement.
Coun Craig said: “Like everyone, we have been concerned by some of the scenes reported in the press. Manchester Airport is the gateway to our city and is key to our recovery from the pandemic.
“Because of this, we want Manchester people to have positive experiences at the airport. Across the UK, airports and the aviation industry have seen significant challenges and we want to ensure that Manchester’s recovery is secured. We are in close touch with the airport management and as a council have been giving support where they have requested it, particularly in helping speed up recruitment to some key roles.
“As a shareholder we are not involved in managing operational issues, but have been meeting with management and are assured that operational disruption is being managed properly and that there is both a short-term and longer-term plan to recruit the staff that are needed to support recovery over the coming months.
“We have offered support where we can throughout, as the airport is such a key part of Manchester’s economy and reputation. We will continue to work closely with the management team until the current issues are resolved.”
the Manchester Evening News has also asked the Department for Transport if they plan to intervene.
A spokesman said: “The aviation industry is responsible for resourcing at airports and they manage their staff absences, although we want to see minimal disruption for passengers during the Easter period. The requirement for Counter Terrorist Checks for aviation security staff is important for the protection of the traveling public and the Government continues to process these security clearances in a timely manner.”
The Government urges all passengers to ensure their necessary outbound Covid forms are in place before they travel, and that they have followed all the standard security screening checks – such as no liquids in hand luggage – to avoid causing delays.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.