TUI has apologised after passengers were forced to queue out of the front doors at Birmingham Airport amid a staffing crisis. Angry customers were reportedly made to wait for several hours to pass through security as the travel giant ran into further problems yesterday (May 7).
One frustrated TUI passenger sent our sister title BirminghamLive a picture of the queues at around 11.30am yesterday. TUI confirmed the issue was due to a delayed flight to Cape Verde and apologised to affected travellers.
A spokesperson told BirminghamLive : “Some customers experienced longer queue times at Birmingham Airport. We would like to apologise to those customers affected and thank them for their patience and understanding.”
It came at the culmination of a testing few weeks in which rocketing passenger demand, prompted by the easing of Covid restrictions, coupled with a lag in training and deploying new staff, has put huge pressure on travel operators, airlines and airports.
Earlier this week, airport chief executive Nick Barton admitted the chaos would continue for several weeks. Speaking to BBC Radio WM, he blamed a 12-week “lag” between recruiting new employees and making them operational.
He said: “It’s still the legacy of the industry being turned back on by the Government’s removal of the rules in mid-February. It didn’t get very much traction because, until the industry started to show it had a future, a lot of people didn’t want to come and start their careers with us.
“We got well under way with recruitment in February but, because we need to have them security-cleared, only then can we start training them. There’s a lag of around 12 weeks.”
Mr Barton added: “We are seeing a rapid recovery in aviation, which is a blessing, but it’s catching up with the staff to make sure we can get back to our normal very good service levels. Well over 99 per cent of people caught their flights this weekend against that incredibly busy backdrop.
“We have now recruited all the people we need for the next three months. They’re in training, that’s the key thing. They are not available for use until we’ve gone through the full training process.
“By the end of May, we should be in a much better place in terms of that resource. The key thing [for passengers] is to turn up when their airline says to, not earlier.”
A BHX spokesperson added: “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.”
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