Recruitment drive helps to cut security delays at Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport said delays in security queues are lessening, despite the site handling more passengers as travel starts to return to near normal levels.

Last month the airport’s managing director, Karen Smart, stepped down after complaints over delays to passengers being processed by security, leading to some missing flights.

Staffing at the airport was slashed during the pandemic, with staff either being furloughed or let go. As journeys began to increase, the airport has been unable to recruit, and train, sufficient staff numbers to guarantee swift passage through the security halls.

However, in an update today (April 5), the airport said it had introduced a range of measures to improve conditions, including the full re-opening of Terminal Three, which has helped ease congestion, additional overtime payments to existing colleagues, the recruitment of hundreds of temporary staff.

It said, to date, more than 8,000 applications have been received for roles including security officers, car park marshals and hospitality staff. In the past month alone, more than 1,600 people have applied for jobs and more than 500 people are currently going through background checks and security training.

Sixty new recruits have joined in April and around 200 new starters are expected to join the operation at Manchester in May, enabling the airport to open additional security lanes during peak periods and improve customer service.

Security waiting times are improving with 90% of passengers taking less than 30 minutes to get through security checks in the past two weeks.

Passengers are advised to ‘take time’ by arriving three hours before their flight and ‘take care’ in getting ready to go through security by re-familiarising themselves with rules and regulations.

However, the airport is also asking passengers not to arrive earlier than three hours prior to their flights because it can lead to extra queues, and check-in and security facilities may not be open.

Today’s update revealed that passenger volumes have now grown back to 79% of pre-pandemic levels, whereas in January volumes were just 40% of those seen in the same month in 2019. The strong recovery means the airport is now serving around three times more passengers each week than it was in January.

Ian Costigan, interim managing director, said: “We want to make sure that customers get away on their travels, so everyone at Manchester Airport is focused on bringing in the extra resources we need to continue operating our full flight schedule.

“It is encouraging to see new staff joining us as a result of our ongoing recruitment drive, and we have seen security waiting times reduce in recent weeks.

“The last few weeks have been challenging, but the team on the ground has done a great job in getting passengers through security more quickly, and I would like to thank all colleagues for their hard work and dedication.”

He added: “As we continue to recover, we are reminding customers to arrive at the airport three hours before their flight and to ensure they are familiar with all security rules. While the majority of people will get through security in less than 30 minutes, customers need to allow time for check-in and the possibility that security queues may be longer at peak times.

“All of these things will help passengers move through the airport quickly and easily, which is our ultimate goal.”

The airport said there are still roles to apply for and there are several recruitment events set to take place in May including open days at the onsite Airport Academy (10th and 17th May). Staff from the airport will also be attending jobs fairs held in Stoke on Trent (organised by Jack Brereton MP), Altrincham Job Centre (6th May), Rusholme Job Centre (11th May) and Bolton Council’s jobs fair on 26th May.