Belfast Telegraph

Staff shortages blamed for Belfast International Airport security delays

By Jonathan Bell

Staff shortages have been blamed for the ongoing long delays at security at Belfast International Airport.

The airport said there was 50 vacancies for jobs for security posts and pay had been improved to try and get more people to apply for the positions - but that they still needed to be trained.

When asked how long they expect recruitment and training to take in order to speed up the security process, both the airport and the private contractor responsible did not respond. The airport said it was working to resolve the issue "as quickly as possible" but recruitment, training and security clearance of staff took time to implement.

Reports of long queues have dogged the airport for months. A new company took over at the beginning of the month and the airport had said this would help to resolve the problem.

That company, Wilson James, said it had inherited a staff shortage which continued to cause problems. It has begun a recruitment campaign and upped pay levels saying it was confident the measures would deliver a "higher calibre of service and provide passengers a more seamless journey through the airport".

Over the past couple of days social media users branded the security process "a joke" and a "shambles". Some said it was the best advertisement the City Airport or Dublin Airport could have while others said they had missed flights because of the delays they faced.

In a statement Belfast International Airport said: "We understand our passengers frustration with security queuing times at Belfast International Airport and we apologise for the inconvenience this has caused. 

"We have experienced significant issues with security staffing levels over the past six months which have impacted upon the operation.  Our new security provider, Wilson James, took over this contact on November 1 and have an ongoing recruitment drive with 50 vacancies currently available at enhanced rates of pay.

"We are working hard behind the scenes to try to resolve these issues as quickly as possible but the recruitment, training and security clearance of staff will take time to implement.  We would ask all our passengers to arrive two hours before their flight and fully prepared for the security search process as this will speed up processing times for everyone.”

Security provider Wilson James said it had inherited a staffing shortage from the previous provider which continued to impact the service delivery.

"However, we are pleased to confirm that the recruitment process for 50 employees is already underway and candidates are moving through a rigorous security vetting process to ensure that aviation security standards are maintained," a statement added.

"To complement our recruitment strategy, we are also pleased to confirm that last week we agreed an improved pay deal which will raise pay rates across the whole of the security contract. We are confident that this priority on our employees will deliver a higher calibre of service and provide passengers a more seamless journey through the airport.

"We recognise that this is the beginning of our new partnership with Belfast International Airport and look forward to working with them to improve the passenger experience."

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