Airport staff checks sped up amid ‘disaster movie’ scenes at Heathrow | Grant Shapp

Ministers battling to ease the chaos at airports say security tests for new workers have been completed in record time as passengers slam ‘disaster movie’ scenes.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is trying to ease flight disruptions this summer to avoid the chaos seen over the Easter and Jubilee holidays.

Shortages of staff to handle luggage and carry out security checks such as X-rays are fueling long queues and delays at UK airports. The government has ordered the verification center to prioritize airport checks so that new recruits can help fill gaps faster.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said counter-terrorism checks for aviation workers are now processed on average in less than 10 days – half the time in March.

Accreditation checks are also expedited to be completed within an average of five days, according to the department. But in the short term, staff shortages appear to be hitting Heathrow Airport.

Passenger Adam Kent, 59, said the baggage claim “looked like a scene from a disaster movie” after arriving at Terminal 3 in Orlando, Florida.

“[There was] luggage lost everywhere, piled up between baggage carousels, everyone stepping over and no one doing anything about it,’ Kent, from Worcestershire, told the PA news agency.

“To be brutally honest, this looks like a serious health and safety issue. No one is visible on the ground to explain the carnage or sort out the mess, it looks like a lot of luggage didn’t arrive with passengers and was just thrown away.

Kent said there was “awful customer service” at the airport, adding: “The staff [were] nowhere to be seen, everyone was pretty shocked. Left and abandoned luggage was unsecured and could easily be stolen… No duty of care to passenger property.

Shapps, who has devised a 22-point plan to help limit disruption, welcomed the latest statistics. “People have made huge sacrifices during the pandemic and deserve their flights to be on time, uncomplicated and not canceled at the last minute,” he said.

“Although this is a difficult time for the sector, it is not acceptable that the current disruption will continue as we head into the summer peak.

“The public deserves to know now whether or not their flight will take place over the summer, and so I reiterate my call on the industry to commit to delivering the flights they have scheduled, or canceling them. well in advance so people can make other arrangements. .

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

But Labor has accused the government of being “missing”.

Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh said: ‘The part-time Transport Secretary did not hold a single meeting to tackle the chaos between Easter and Jubilee weekend and now he is trying desperate to catch up.

“These re-announced half-measures will do little to eliminate the huge backlogs in security checks and tackle the chronically low wages that are holding the industry back.”

However, the DfT said Shapps hosted an aviation roundtable to discuss the disruption with airports, airlines and ground handling companies on June 1.

Andrea G. Henderson