Gatwick Fliers Warned Of More Weekend Luggage Delays
Friday 1st August 2014
Passengers are being advised to pack essential items in their hand luggage ahead of another possible weekend of baggage delays at Gatwick.
Airlines are warning the weekend will be one of the busiest times of the year for air travel. But airport bosses say they are confident they can avoid a repeat of last week's chaos by bringing in extra staff.
Travel organisation Abta said: “We hope people can pass through Gatwick smoothly this weekend. But if people are concerned it would be a good idea for them to put essential items in their carry-on bags.”
Persistent understaffing issues by baggage handling firm Swissport left many stranded for hours during the weekend of the 26th, with reports confirming that 400,000 travellers passed through the crowded airport that weekend. Some travellers reported waiting up to four hours for their baggage to be processed and returned to them.
A Gatwick statement read: “Gatwick is operating well 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 since the weekend. No departing passengers were affected as some reports have inaccurately suggested.
“While we are not anticipating issues with arriving baggage delivery 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 and we continue to work closely with our handlers and airlines to ensure our high service standards are met.”
Gatwick bosses criticised Swissport, saying the firm had “failed to meet standards”.
One airline, Monarch, is understood to be ending contracts with Swissport who have been blasted by MPs for causing the delays with the use of zero-hour contractors.
Swissport have denied this claim and are downplaying any major disruptions predicted for the weekend saying: “Nothing that has happened during the past week gives any indication that this weekend will cause the baggage chaos being suggested.”
The airport says it is responding to personnel issues by adding its own additional staff to bolster Swissport shortages as well as offering a free baggage home delivery service.