Manchester Airport has received more than 8,000 applications and hired more than a thousand new recruits to bolster its workforce in a bid to reduce queues as passenger numbers rise. The urgent recruitment drive came amid chaotic times for the hub, with passengers feeling the pain of staff shortages at check-in, security and passport control.
But hub bosses say they are now on the road to recovery ahead of the summer months, with more than 1,600 applicants applying for jobs at the airport in April alone, 550 recruits on the ground since January and 500 new arrivals being verified. and safety training. Another 200 workers are expected to join the operation in May, allowing management to open more safety lanes during peak periods and “improve customer service”.
Overall, there were 8,000 applicants for jobs, including security guards, parking marshals and hospitality staff. Meanwhile, despite continued complaints from passengers, bosses insist security waiting times are improving, with ’90 per cent’ of passengers getting through in less than 30 minutes over the past fortnight, compared to 78% in the first two weeks of April.
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Despite these light signals, passengers are still asked to arrive three hours before their flight and are reminded to familiarize themselves with the security rules around hand luggage to speed up the process. But it’s a good balance; the airport also warns customers not to arrive too early as this may lead to additional queues – and their check-in and security counters may not yet be open.
In the wake of the pandemic, the past few months have been hectic for Manchester Airport as they struggled to cope with passenger numbers following the lifting of restrictions. Last month, that led to an open letter of apology from boss Charlie Cornish. Passenger numbers are now at 79% of pre-pandemic levels, triple that of January, when travelers were at 40% of the level they were in the same month of 2019.
The Manchester Evening News still receives daily complaints from passengers but, although the airport admits that waiting times are sometimes even longer, they insist they happen less frequently and are erased’ relatively quickly”. They say the whole of the aviation sector faces similar staffing pressures and they are working with the UK Border Force, airlines and ground handlers to support immigration, check-in operations and baggage claim.
To help cope with demand, the airport fully reopened Terminal 3, offered additional overtime payments to the existing workforce, ramped up its recruitment campaign and launched a campaign called “Take Time, Take Care, Take Flight” to help passengers navigate through terminals. . The management team says they have also improved “the efficiency of people deployment” and introduced new measures to “enhance the airport experience for customers and staff”.
Ian Costigan, Manchester Airport’s acting chief executive, said: “We want to make sure customers get away from it all on their journeys, so everyone at Manchester Airport is focused on bringing in resources. additional resources we need to continue to operate our full flight schedule.
“It is encouraging to see new employees joining us as a result of our ongoing recruitment campaign, and we have seen security wait times reduce over the past few weeks. The past few weeks have been difficult, but the team on the ground has done a great job getting passengers through security more quickly, and I want to thank all colleagues for their hard work and dedication.
“As we continue to recover, we are reminding customers to arrive at the airport three hours before their flight and to ensure they know all the security rules. While the majority of people will go through security less 30 minutes, customers should allow time for check-in and the possibility of longer security lines at peak times.
“All of these things will help passengers get around the airport quickly and easily, which is our ultimate goal.”
The airport also reiterated its advice to those who must travel through the airport. As part of a new customer communication campaign, the airport is asking customers to arrive three hours before their flights.
Passengers who have not flown for a long time are also advised to reacquaint themselves with the safety rules. This includes ensuring that all liquids, gels and pastes in their hand luggage are under 100ml and in a clear resealable bag. Passengers should remove everything from their pockets, and large electrical appliances should also be taken out of carry-on baggage and placed in a tray. Rejected bags and trays can add, on average, an additional 12 minutes to a person’s security process, which, multiplied by the thousands of passengers passing through them, soon results in lengthy delays that can easily be avoided.
There are still vacancies at the airport and several recruitment events are planned for May, including open days at the on-site Airport Academy (10 and and 17 and May). Airport staff will also attend job fairs at Stoke on Trent (hosted by MP Jack Brereton), Altrincham Job Center (6 and May), Rusholme Job Center (11 and May) and the Bolton Council Career Fair on 26 and May.