Birmingham Airport to set up new pre-screening area to cut passenger queues

Birmingham queue chaos
By Lisa James
Home » Birmingham Airport to set up new pre-screening area to cut passenger queues

Birmingham Airport is planning to introduce a large pre-screening facility within days in a bid to help cut passenger queues.

Social media posts over the weekend and yesterday showed long queues of passengers outside the terminal, with people on Monday waiting in the rain. The airport said queues are being slowed down by passenger confusion over what they are and aren’t allowed to put in hand luggage.

CEO Nick Barton said he’s frustrated the airport’s next-generation security scanners, which were installed in time for 1 June as part of a £60 million investment, have not been able to be used to their full potential. He described the problem as ‘like having a sports car and having to use it in first gear’.

He told Travel Gossip: “We ordered an approved product which was installed in the airport in January, all ready for 1 June. We have met that deadline. In the run up to this we found that the machinery was not going to be allowed to be used to its full design capacity, around which we have based our schedule.

“We can’t use the machines other than the approval directed by the Government. Up until Friday we haven’t been able to talk about it because it’s a security issue. It’s a temporary issue. But until it is resolved we can’t use it at the capacity that it was meant, for reasons that are not in our control.

“This is the most complicated alteration to our airport ever taken. We can’t use it as it was designed to be used. Quite when it will be, we don’t know. We are hoping and praying it is soon. In the meantime we have to plan for it not being available.”

Passengers already go through pre-screening, but Birmingham Airport is planning to have a bigger area with up to 100 additional staff who will be brought in to check hand luggage and remove items that are not allowed.

Nick added: “I do apologise to any passenger that’s caught up in this. They are confused and I absolutely don’t blame them at all. What we can do is to help them to help us.  Clearly it is totally confusing. Yesterday over half a ton of liquids out of cabin bags was not going to make it.

“We are aiming to launch a much bigger facility before security to help them get to compliance so that they can flow through security. We’re employing an awful lot of external contractors. We already had 25 extra people whose sole objective is to help passengers.”

He said the new facility will be set up ‘at the weekend or just beyond – subject to the logistics of the situation’ and he promised to ‘focus everything on this compliance team’.

He added holidaymakers are arriving at the airport up to nine hours before the flight, which ‘does not help anybody’ and he told passengers to check with their airline about arrival times and follow the airport’s advice that no liquids, pastes or gels over 100ml are allowed through security. These items should stay in hand luggage during the security search.

The old scanners are still in place, but Nick said: “We just can’t go back to the old system. We’ve got 300 staff who are trained on the new system. We can’t have them moving between the two. They are so complex. We can’t have the risk of having two systems in place.”

He added: “Our security staff want to look after our customers. I feel so bad for them. They are just feeling so upset that this is not working.”

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