Warning of Easter logjam at airports due to staff shortages

A warning of longer than usual queues at airports over Easter due to staff shortages has been issued.

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) said its members had been trying to bring in employees for new roles following job losses and staff departing to other industries during the pandemic.

But recruitment problems and Covid-related staff absences could put operations at airports under strain.

AOA chief executive Karen Dee said passengers “may not have the experience they are used to” at peak times.

Quoted by the BBC, she said airports were working hard to recruit more staff in the run-up to the Easter holidays, and were “working with the UK government to resolve any delays in the necessary checks before staff can start work”.

The AOA asked travellers to arrive early for flights due to longer check-in waits and has also urged people to make sure they have any Covid-related documents needed for their destination.

Holiday bookings jumped with trips planned for Easter after UK Covid travel restrictions were scrapped.

Manchester airport has already blamed staff shortages on long passenger queues in recent weeks, ahead of the busier Easter break.

Kevin O’Reilly, managing director of specialist aviation and airport recruitment company One Resourcing, said finding enough airport ground staff, including cleaners and baggage handlers, was proving very challenging.

“It’s always been a tough market to recruit for, but it’s become harder this year,” he told the BBC.

O’Reilly said there were a number of reasons businesses were struggling to replenish their staffing levels.

“A huge number of people left the aviation industry due to the pandemic and whilst many have come back, many have found alternative positions in other sectors and do not want to risk returning to work in an industry that made them redundant,” he added.

“Now there’s a bounce-back from having no people travelling, to suddenly everyone wanting travel.

“Recruitment at airports doesn’t happen overnight, people must go through a thorough security vetting process to get an airside pass.”

He said some other jobs were tempting workers away from the industry, and some EU nationals had left after Brexit.

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