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Sunday, Aug 07, 2022

Security tests for new airport workers being completed in record time, ministers claim, despite travel disruption continuing

Security tests for new airport workers being completed in record time, ministers claim, despite travel disruption continuing

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The time taken to vet new employees has been among the reasons for shortages in airport staff, contributing to thousands of flight cancellations, delays and missing luggage.

Security tests for new airport workers are being completed in record time, ministers claim, despite travel disruption continuing to dog holiday plans.

The time taken to vet new employees has been raised as one of the reasons for shortages in airport staff, contributing to thousands of flight cancellations, delays and missing luggage.

Airports across the UK and in Europe have been affected in recent months, as the aviation sector struggles to cope with peak season demand after two years of coronavirus pandemic-related turbulence.

The Department for Transport said counter-terrorist checks for aviation workers are now being processed in under 10 days on average - half of the time seen in March.

Accreditation checks are also moving more quickly, taking five days on average, the department said.

In other developments:

• Flights were delayed at Heathrow Airport on Saturday after a technical fault with the airport's fuelling system

• A technical breakdown left at least 1,500 bags stuck at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport

• Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary told the Financial Times that flying has become "too cheap" and fares will rise over the next five years

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "While this is a challenging time for the sector, it is not acceptable for the current disruption to continue as we head into the summer peak.

"The public deserves to know now whether or not their flight will run over the summer, and so I reiterate my call for the industry to commit to deliver the flights they have scheduled, or to cancel them well in advance so people can make other arrangements.

"Building on our 22-point plan to help the industry minimise disruption, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure this summer is a great success for the British public."

But Labour accused the government of having been "missing in action".

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: "The part-time transport secretary didn't hold a single meeting to tackle the chaos between Easter and the Jubilee weekend and now he's desperately trying to play catch-up.

"These re-announced half-measures will do little to clear the huge delays in security checks and tackle the chronic low pay holding the industry back."

However, the Department for Transport said Mr Shapps held a meeting with airports, airlines and ground handling companies on 1 June.

Meanwhile, passengers face more cancellations this week, along with 12 days of strike action this month by Ryanair workers in Spain, and industrial unrest in France.

Britain's busiest airport Heathrow has to tell officials about any further flight cancellations by Friday, under an amnesty announced last month that will allow airlines to cancel flights while still retaining take-off and landing slots next year.

Many passengers have had their luggage delayed


Airlines buy slots to operate their schedules but can lose them to rivals if they fail to maintain their obligations to the airport and passengers by failing to fly.

It is hoped that being able to freely adjust schedules will allow airlines to run only the flights they can fully staff, ending the reports of passengers arriving at the airport to find their flights cancelled at the last minute.

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