Travel chaos caused by staff shortages at one of the UK’s busiest airports is likely to continue for several weeks, its boss has warned. The admission comes amid reports that passengers missed bank holiday flights because they were stuck in queues of passengers waiting to get through security.
Birmingham Airport chief executive Nick Barton blamed a 12-week “lag” between recruiting new employees and making them operational for the ongoing security delays, which resulted in some furious passengers miss flights on Bank Holiday Monday, reports BirminghamLive.
Passengers using the airport have complained about long security queues for more than a month because of the rocketing demand for flights after coronavirus restrictions were eased. The hub admitted it was suffering from staff shortages after many workers were laid off during the pandemic.
Speaking on radio, Mr Barton said the problems were unlikely to improve until the end of this month, when the new staff were fully trained and deployed. He said: “It’s still the legacy of the industry being turned back on by the Government’s removal of the rules in mid-February.”
The airport’s recruitment drive was initially launched at the end of 2021, but Mr Barton said many employees were wary of returning to the industry. He explained: “It didn’t get very much traction because, until the industry started to show it had a future, a lot of people didn’t want to come and start their careers with us.
“We got well under way with recruitment in February but, because we need to have them security-cleared, only then can we start training them. There’s a lag of around 12 weeks.
“We are seeing a rapid recovery in aviation, which is a blessing, but it’s catching up with the staff to make sure we can get back to our normal very good service levels.
“Well over 99 per cent of people caught their flights this weekend against that incredibly busy backdrop. We have now recruited all the people we need for the next three months. They’re in training, that’s the key thing. They are not available for use until we’ve gone through the full training process.
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“By the end of May, we should be in a much better place in terms of that resource. The key thing for passengers is to turn up when their airline says to, not earlier.”
However, some passengers were furious after missing flights from the airport on Monday. A Ryanair passenger said “30 of us didn’t make our flight and didn’t even make it through security” having missed their flight to Dublin at 8.10am.
Another Ryanair traveller described how they they missed their flight despite being fast-tracked through security to find the plane had already taken off. While Helen Hill tweeted: “@bhx_official @TUIUK checking in and security was horrific! No organization. Not getting what your paying for! Never experienced anything this bad. Over 3 hrs to get through. People running for flights!!!! Luckily our flight delayed or we’d be cutting it fine!!! #floridabound.”
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