Belfast International Airport switches security firms after summer of delays
Belfast International Airport has vowed to end long delays for passengers after announcing a new company had won the contract to provide security services.
The Aldergrove airport was heavily criticised in the summer after frustrated travellers hit out over long security queues, which caused some to miss their flights.
Yesterday, the airport admitted that it had not been up to scratch.
However, ICTS the previous security company insisted it had provided a good service and blamed the airport for when it fell short.
Wilson James has been named as the winner of the new security contract, which will come into effect on November 1.
Belfast International Airport (BIA) managing director Graham Keddie said the airport and the new security provider were determined to improve the customer experience.
Mr Keddie said: "This year will see Belfast International Airport reach six million passengers for the first time in its history and that growth is expected to continue.
"We recognise that at some points over the busy summer season the service provided to our passengers was not what it should have been. Therefore we, along with Wilson James, are committed to improving the quality of service and operational capability and we will be announcing further development plans shortly."
ICTS, which had done the job since 2001, insisted that it had provided an "excellent" service.
And it called for an increase in security staff wages to reflect the crucial job they carry out.
It said: "ICTS was first awarded the contract to supply security services at Belfast International Airport in 2001 and we have successfully held this contract for over 16 years.
"During this time we have worked collaboratively with Belfast International Airport and ensured that we delivered an excellent service above and beyond what we were contracted to provide.
"We agree with Belfast International Airport that the service provided to passengers over the summer period was not what it should have been; however we had no control of this factor.
"We would like to take this opportunity to reassure the travelling public that ICTS will work closely with Wilson James to ensure a smooth transfer of all personnel to the new contract."
When asked what guarantees it could give that the security delays would not reoccur, the airport said it would work with Wilson James "to put in place improvement measures for the central search area".
Gemma Quirke, managing director for security and aviation at Wilson James, said the company would work with the airport to "develop the security offering".
She added: "We are committed to working in partnership with the airport community to deliver an excellent service, investing in people, training and innovation to ensure that Belfast International Airport is ready to meet the needs of its growing passenger population now and in the future."
Earlier this week, airline Norwegian Air announced it was withdrawing its flights from Belfast International to the New York and Boston areas from October 27, blaming a lack of demand.
In a statement, the company advised that customers in Northern Ireland can still fly to the US via Dublin, Shannon and Cork, with up to 33 weekly departures.
In a scathing response, BIA accused the airline of "moronically channelling much greater levels of Northern Ireland passengers onto Dublin flights". A spokesperson said that it was "extremely disappointed" by Norwegian's decision but criticised the airline for only offering two flights per week from Belfast.