Manchester Airport admits staff shortages and warns long queues will continue ‘for weeks’
Travelers using Manchester Airport could face long queues for ‘several weeks’.
Bosses have admitted they are struggling with staff shortages after an increase in international travel since the coronavirus pandemic. Manchester Airport is set to launch a major recruitment campaign to help tackle the problem, which has seen people queuing for more than three hours to pass through security.
However, Karen Smart, chief executive of Manchester Airport, says the recruitment drive could take weeks to remedy the crisis. Current staff are also struggling with the workload, with an employee tell the MEN things are “diabolical” due to lack of staff.
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Karen Smart said: “We want to apologize to all of our customers who have experienced disruptions over the past two weeks. We want to be clear with our customers that the return to full power is going to take time and that unfortunately there will be periods over the next few weeks where it will take longer to get through the airport than it should.
Staff have complained of ‘burnout’ and diminished team spirit, a team member told the MEN “It’s very understaffed right now, it’s diabolical. The whole working environment is shocking. Many people were fired and fired.
“All the businesses at the airport have just gotten rid of far too many staff, everyone panicked during the pandemic. Now everything is picking up again, we can’t just get staff back. There are a lot of staff threatening to leaving and many who have already left.We have just lost a lot of staff – we have received many notices over the past two weeks.
In previous statements, Manchester Airport bosses blame an unexpected increase in travel and a large number of bags rejected at security for the long delays. However, the new statement accepts that there are also recruitment and staffing issues, saying: “The airport is experiencing staff shortages as it seeks to meet growing demand for international travel following the lifting of restrictions. testing and quarantine requirements in mid-February.”
Following a pandemic that led to more than 2,000 layoffs At Manchester Airport alone, bosses are struggling to hire and train staff fast enough to meet the huge demand. Passenger numbers have doubled in the past two months, with 60,000 now passing through the terminals each day.
What the airport does about long lines:
The airport has launched a major recruitment campaign to fill hundreds of positions in its security operations. Other companies, including airlines and ground service providers, are also on a recruiting mission. There are currently 400 recruits undergoing training and security clearance and the situation is expected to “improve” through April as the workforce is strengthened.
In the meantime, the airport is holding a job fair in Wythenshawe on Thursday, seeking to recruit “temporary” staff from universities and “develop ways” for the existing workforce to support operations. Karen Smart, Managing Director of Manchester Airport, said: “We want to apologize to all of our customers who have experienced disruption over the past two weeks. We recognize that passengers are really anxious to leave, and the Long queues are clearly not what they want to see when traveling through our airport.”
What passengers can do:
Bosses say many passengers have not traveled since before the pandemic and are ‘less familiar’ with the rules of what can be breached by security – leading to more manual searches and longer queues .
The airport asks passengers to arrive as early as possible for the time their airline allows them to check in and to ensure they are aware of any road or rail disruptions that may affect about their travel plans. He also urged passengers to remember the rules on what is and is not allowed in hand luggage to speed up security processing and reduce queues.
Ms Smart said: “We want to give customers the best possible experience when traveling through Manchester, and know people are excited to fly again after so long.
“I want to reassure people that we are working hard to get back to where we need to be, and even though queues can sometimes be longer than people are used to, customers can certainly help us by arriving on time and making sure they know exactly what they can and cannot go through security. I would like to thank all of our colleagues for their dedication during this recovery period.”