Manchester Airport worker says he’s quit his job in ‘disgust over way it’s being run’

A Manchester Airport worker says he’s quit his job in disgust over the way it is being run. Ray Ellis, 54, said he has resigned in protest over what he called ‘chaotic operations’ – and said he fears for the safety of passengers.

the Manchester Evening News has repeatedly reported how the airport has been plagued by staff shortages recently, and of long delays for passengers waiting to board flights and on their return to Manchester. Holidaymakers have struggled to make their way through security, with queues snaking as far as a car park on one occasion.

This weekend we revealed images of boxes piled high at security gate checks and reports of holidaymakers jumping over barriers and jostling for space. Baggage handlers, meanwhile, claim they are under more stress, with reports of passengers abandoning luggage to get away after long waits – and EasyJet canceled dozens of flights due to staff sickness.

And, amid reports of further long queues on Monday morning, a councillor claimed the continuing chaos was down to a ‘failure of management’, claiming the mayhem could last into the summer.

Bosses have admitted issues with recruitment and warned queues could persist amid the start of busy summer schedules and as international travel slowly begins to return to normal levels following the Covid pandemic. All restrictions, however, have now ended.

Ray Ellis has spoken out

Mr Ellis, a father-of-three and grandfather from Wythenshawe, started working airside at the airport in 1994, handling baggage and aircraft. In March, I have started work for Manchester Airports Group, landside as a trolley operative. He also runs a commercial clearance company and says he’s trained and experienced in health and safety, once working for the Health and Safety Executive in an advisory role.

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He said the airport, which is battling to attract jobs and has launched a recruitment drive, should simply reduce flights until the situation eases.

“I am health and safety through and through,” Mr Ellis told the MEN “I am very well trained and used to be a health and safety rep at the airport as well as a trainer. I have worn many caps there and I know how things should be run. They are not being run in the way they should be. I am making this point and speaking out because I am genuinely concerned for passenger safety.”

Mr Ellis has also contacted Manchester City Council, which has shares in the airport, the mayor of Greater Manchester’s office, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Transport.

“I am quite willing and able to give a tour of the airport to point out my concerns to anyone who would benefit from that,” he added. “It is the first job at the airport that I have walked out on. It is dreadful at the moment and getting dangerous.”

Among a series of allegations, Mr Ellis cited workers being offered a ‘£20 incentive’ to forgo breaks during one shift amid claims passengers were forced to wait up to two hours to collect their luggage – he said the move was in breach of working time directives and compromised safety.

And he said: “On Friday and Saturday there was a contingency plan in place to form the Terminal 1 departure queues outside the far and central entry doors when temperatures were predicted to be as low as freezing. My heart goes out to you if you ended up in it.To say the lunatics are running the asylum is an understatement.

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“I resigned because of the chaotic way the airport is operating. I want to shout as loud as possible about it because I am a passenger as well. Security is not being taken seriously.

Security screening trays stacked high

Mr Ellis claimed over-crowding and poorly laid out customer lines and queue barriers were compromising safety and evacuation plans.

“They should have reduced flights to deal with the capacity. The inconvenience that passengers are suffering is unjust. I would say that passenger safety is being endangered. The security is nowhere near what it should be at a major airport.

“People are sat around in management crisis meetings. No one seems to be taking ownership or responsibility for this. They need to reduce flights until they get on top of it all.

Long queues at Manchester Airport

“In T2 there can be the best part of 20,000 passengers all trying to get through security in two hours. We know the size of the terminal and we have logged some queues at more than a mile and a half long. The queues are that long they can compromise evacuations.”

The MEN contacted Manchester Airport on Friday and put Mr Ellis’ claims to them.

The airport said on Twitter on Monday morning: “As we continue to recover from the pandemic and passenger numbers grow, security queues may be longer than usual at times. If you’re due to travel in the next few weeks, please arrive at the earliest time your airline allows. We apologize to our customers for the disruption.”

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The airport also urged passengers to reduce delays by preparing hand luggage for security screening. Liquids must be 100ml or less and be placed in a clear, resealable bag.

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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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