Thousands queue outside at Manchester and Birmingham airports

Staff shortages result in waiting times of more than two hours for some passengers

Queues outside Birmingham Airport as thousands of passengers flying were forced to wait outside for several hours. PA
Powered by automated translation

Thousands of passengers flying from UK airports were forced to wait in long queues outside for several hours as the aviation sector continues to suffer from staff shortages.

The situation at Birmingham on Monday morning was described as “absolute chaos” and “manic” by travellers on Twitter.

One person said it took her “two hours to get through check-in and security”.

Another threatened legal action against the airport if they missed their flight due to a “lack of management”.

Passengers at Manchester Airport also described lengthy queues there as a “shambles” and spent hours in queues that reportedly stretched as far as the car park.

Lengthy security wait times have been reported at airports across the UK in recent weeks, including at Heathrow and Stansted.

A number of factors have been blamed, including the time it takes for new ground staff to pass security clearance, staff sickness, a lack of Border Force officials and an increase in demand for travel following the end of the UK’s coronavirus restrictions.

Some travellers have been told to arrive for their journeys three hours before their flights take off.

Birmingham Airport said: “Half of the 15,000 customers flying out of BHX [Birmingham Airport] today were booked to depart in our busy dawn peak, so we took the decision to run security queues outside the terminal to avoid them getting tangled with check-in lines.

“Queues were long but managed and moving. We thank customers for their patience.

“As always, our message to departing customers is: Help us help you keep queues moving by removing any liquids, gels, pastes and electrical items from your bags before our security X-ray scanners.”

The airport said 43 per cent of its employees were made redundant during the pandemic owing to travel restrictions that were lifted in mid-February without prior warning.

It said it began a recruitment drive in November 2021.

New security officers are expected to be on duty soon after they complete their training.

British Airways and easyJet are continuing to cancel flights every day due to staffing issues.

It emerged at the weekend that easyJet is removing six seats from about 50 of its aircraft to enable it to operate them with three members of cabin crew rather than four, as the airline battles a shortage of staff.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, is introducing a rule to allow new aviation recruits to begin training before passing security checks, to reduce the time it takes for them to start work.

Updated: May 09, 2022, 11:03 AM