Belfast Telegraph

'Humiliating' - Belfast airport boss says 70 people missed flights because of delays

By Jonathan Bell

Around 70 people missed flights on Monday morning because of long security queues, Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie has confirmed.

He said they were determined to fix the issue which has long dogged the airport and they hoped there would be no more lengthly delays after Easter. He said compensation for those people that missed flights would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

There were long queues through the airport on Monday morning with people forced to stand in the cold conditions outside the terminal.

Mr Keddie said it was not a "great way to start the day". He apologised saying it was "embarrassing and humiliating" for the airport team to see the comments around the delays once again. He said the longest queuing time was just under an hour.

"It's not great, we know what we have to do and we will fix it," he told the BBC.

Mr Keddie said he was "proud" of what the airport had achieved in the past despite the problems admitting work on security was needed which was ongoing and recruitment of staff "took time". He said many people had been recruited to fill vacant posts but they were awaiting security clearance. He said £1m had been invested on security upgrades.

Belfast councillor Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston said some front-line staff bore the brunt of passengers' frustrations and were verbally abused.

The International's rival, Dublin Airport, reported of a maximum wait of 15 minutes on Monday morning. While airline easyJet apologised to its customers, although said the issue was outside its control. It has said it works with the airport to minimise disruption.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has called for an investigation over the continued problems. He described Monday's queues as a "shambles". Mr Keddie said the airport conformed to all standards set out by regulatory authorities.

The airport chief said on Thursday they would be back to six lanes and before Easter they would have eight fully-manned security posts.

Queues out the door at Belfast International Airport.
Queues out the door at Belfast International Airport.
Queues were through the terminal building at Belfast International Airport.
Queues out the door at Belfast International Airport.

He blamed the long queues on work ongoing to expand the security area meaning space for queuing was reduced by 40% and stressed for people to arrive two hours before their flight departure.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "We are basically re-orientating all our search lanes by 90degrees. But initially we are turning three and we will have three sitting the other way.

"So just to warn people queue space will reduce again because we are still working in those areas. But from Thursday we will be back to six lanes and by Easter it will be eight lanes.

"It will improve from Thursday you will see a vast improvement from then and before Easter there will be a dramatic improvement."

Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie
Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie

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