By Will Lee
Airports in U.K. Encounter Increased Passenger Travel Demand, Long Queues
Britons have started dusting off their passports and returning to the skies after the travel restrictions were lifted in March. However, the long queues at the airport have left the travelers frustrated.
According to local media, Manchester, U.K. Airport — one of the busiest airports in the country — has seen the long queues on Monday morning
The long queue on Monday morning was a sense of déjà vu for the airport. Manchester Airport has first seen the travel chaos in mid-March after the U.K.’s travel restrictions were scrapped. Karen Smart, the managing director of Manchester Airports Group, has stepped down as a result.
In March, frustrated passengers were forced to queue in the car park for passport control, security checks and check-in. Some passengers have waited for five hours to board a flight. In the early phase, the airport has admitted “the shortage of staff and recruitment challenges at present” and expect the situation couldn’t be solved for several weeks.
Airport staff across the country lost their jobs during the pandemic. Since the travel rules have been lifted, the airports have been struggling to hire new employees. Moreover, the new employees need to be trained before joining the operations. After the restrictions were eased, other airports in the nation such as London’s Heathrow Airport, London’s Gatwick Airport, London’s Stansted Airport and Bristol, U.K.’s airport have seen the long queues as well.
According to the Manchester, U.K.’s airport, 60 new employees have joined the operation in April, with a further 200 new staff starting working in May. Also, the airport said the security waiting time is improving with 90% of passengers taking less than 30 minutes to get through security checkpoints in the last two weeks.
“We want to make sure that customers get away on their travels, so everyone at Manchester Airport is focused on bringing in the extra resources we need to continue operating our full flight schedule,” Ian Costigan, Interim Managing Director of Manchester Airport said.
The passengers have been advised to arrive three hours before their departure flights but mentioned not to arrive earlier than three hours, it will cause the extra queues.
The airport also reported that the passenger volumes have returned to 79% of pre-pandemic levels, serving around three times more passengers each week than in January.
Also, Manchester Airport will carry out temporary measures to solve the current problems, including reopening Terminal Three, allowing additional overtime payments to employees, hiring hundreds of temporary staff and a new customer communication campaign.
In the meantime, Birmingham, U.K.’s Airport has been spotted the long queue outside the airport on Monday morning too. According to the airport, 15,000 passengers are expected on Monday, half of the passengers have booked flights departing around its “busy dawn peak”.