Airport chaos to continue for ‘at least two months’

By Linsey McNeill
Home » Airport chaos to continue for ‘at least two months’

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has warned passengers to expect at least another two months of disruption at the city’s airport.

Following a meeting with Manchester Airport bosses yesterday, he says customers should be advised to arrive at least three hours ahead of their flights ‘for the foreseeable future’.

In recent days many passengers have missed flights due to extraordinary long check-in and security queues at Manchester Airport.

There were even fears passengers could get injured as scrums broke out, leading to extra police being drafted in and Transport for Greater Manchester placed on standby to help with queue management.

Mr Burnham said he was ‘concerned’ by some of the ‘unacceptable’ scenes at the Manchester hub, adding that more should have been done earlier to prevent them.

The airport’s MD Karen Smart stepped down earlier this week, citing family reasons.

Following a meeting with management yesterday, Mr Burnham said the disruption was likely to continue and that passengers would have to adhere to new advice ‘for the foreseeable future’.

In addition to arriving at least three hours before their flights, customers should also be advised to check luggage into the hold in advance where possible and to travel with minimum hand baggage.

Manchester Airport has blamed the check-in and security queues on staff shortages and delays processing new recruits.

Mr Burnham said there are currently 220 new staff waiting security clearance and he has written to the Minister for Security and Borders to ask it to prioritise the vetting process for large airports like Manchester.

However, Which? Travel Editor Rory Boland suggested the reasons for the shortage of staff were low pay and poor conditions. He tweeted: “Airports, airlines and commentators that appear in media claiming they can’t attract staff need to be challenged about pay, conditions and the amount shareholders earn in pay outs.”

He pointed out that at Gatwick, ground handler GGS is advertising check-in agents jobs for £9.93 an hour, adding: “Some airlines claim they face unique staffing problems. All that’s unique is the abysmal wages.”

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