UK airports ‘not ready’ for new security scanners, says Jet2 chief and Jet2holidays chief Steve Heapy has called on the industry to lobby local MPs to push back the deadline for the introduction of new security scanners at UK airports, or “face another summer of massive disruption and turmoil”.

Speaking at the 94th Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association in Glasgow on Thursday night, Heapy said: “The government has mandated that we have next generation scanners in airports by the middle of this year. It wants the UK to be a world leader in aviation security, but if they do it, the only thing we’ll be leading in, is queues as our airports are not ready.”

Heapy said problems included the scanners not being widely available as they are made by only a handful of suppliers, they cost millions of pounds, they are bigger than some security halls currently, so airports would need redeveloping to accommodate them, and they are extremely heavy, meaning many airports would need to reinforce their floors before installing them.

More: Passengers ‘must be prepared’ for new airport security rules despite delay

“Airports are going all out to meet these challenges but they are not going to be ready. We must lobby for this deadline to be put back of we will see loads of issues and it will present a massive threat to our sector,” he told attendees.

“It’s an election year and this is our chance to hold these people who want our votes to account.”

He added: “I suggest you all speak to your politicians and ask for their personal and party views on our sector and what their policies are towards things like airport security, and other key issues like breathing new life into high streets by bringing down rates, taxing the aviation industry over CO2 emissions, the development of sustainable aviation fuel, and the modernisation of airspace. We’ve got to show our strength. Work out who deserves your vote as this is a fantastic industry that I’m proud to work in and I don’t want to see it ruined.”

Heapy also warned that the cost-of-living crisis and economic outlook was still a risk to the industry.

“We’re now officially in a recession. We’re seeing the cost of everything go up – food, fuel, transport, taxes. Everything is going up and feeding through to the holiday price,” he said.

“We know that while sales of lottery tickets, streaming services and meals out are going down, people are still prioritising holiday spend. This is great but everyone has their limit and their tolerance level and it’s still going up.”

Heapy told agents “we need to give people a reason to go away and not holiday in the UK”, adding: “We need to find new customers and retain existing ones. Don’t just let people walk past your shop and say it’s a quiet day today.  Go out there and find new customers and work harder to retain the ones you have. Work your databases harder. Work out who to market to, how they want to be marketed to, through which channels, especially social media.

“And respond to customers quickly; service is key. Alan Cross [Jet2holidays’ director of travel agent relationships] called an agent the other day and got a voicemail saying they’d get back to him within 48 hours. That’s too long and they will go somewhere else.”


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