Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Extra baggage staff at Gatwick

Some travellers at Gatwick Airport were sent home without their luggage due to lengthy delays last weekend
Some travellers at Gatwick Airport were sent home without their luggage due to lengthy delays last weekend

Extra staff are expected to help soothe congestion at Gatwick Airport's baggage reclaim hall after bosses moved to avoid a repeat of last weekend's disruption.

Contingency plans were put in place at the West Sussex airport to ensure the risks of significant delays were minimised.

Last weekend, some travellers at the arrivals gate were sent home without their luggage due to lengthy delays.

Staff shortage problems meant baggage-handling company Swissport was unable to cope with a succession of off-schedule arrivals at Gatwick late last Saturday night.

Swissport, which has apologised for the difficulties, has drafted in 40 extra staff to cope with the demand this weekend.

Gatwick management, who also laid on staff to assist with the baggage operation, said the additional manpower helped ensure delays were kept to a minimum yesterday.

Staffing levels are expected to remain high today and at other peak periods during the summer.

An airport spokesman said it had been "business as normal" at the airport yesterday, despite it being one of the busiest periods of the year as schools break up for the summer holidays, prompting a surge of holidaymakers at the terminals.

The spokesman said the "vast majority" of flights had met the time targets for returning luggage, with fewer than 15 of the 311 flights arriving between 1am and 7pm taking more than 55 minutes for the baggage to be loaded onto the returns belt.

He said: "Gatwick is operating well today and passengers booked to fly through Gatwick this weekend are advised to do so as planned.

"We would like to re-iterate that the issues we saw last weekend were limited to arriving bags and delivery has been good every day since then.

"While we are not anticipating issues with arriving baggage this weekend, we do have a robust contingency plan in place. This includes providing an additional 60 staff to support the Swissport operation.

"On average, bags are delivered on time for 95% of flights at Gatwick. We would advise, however, that in the very busy peak periods passengers may experience slightly longer waiting times than usual.

"We continue to work closely with our handlers and airlines to ensure our high service standards are met."

The spokesman said it would assess staffing levels on a frequent basis but that additional personnel would be drafted in during the busiest dates over the summer.

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