Manchester Airport boss quits after weeks of chaos for travellers

5 April 2022, 19:29

There have been scenes of chaos at Manchester Airport in recent weeks
There have been scenes of chaos at Manchester Airport in recent weeks. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Manchester Airport's managing director is standing down amid heavy criticism following weeks of chaos for travellers.

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Manchester Airports Group (MAG) said Karen Smart will return to the south of England for family reasons and to "pursue fresh career opportunities".

Holidaymakers have been facing long delays at the airport, with check-in queues trailing outside terminals and hordes of people waiting to get through security and to pick up luggage.

In chaotic scenes, piles of suitcases have been left in terminals as passengers abandoned the wait to reclaim their baggage and instead left for home.

READ MORE: 'Devastating': Easter airport shambles with 5 hour long queues and 1,000 flights cancelled

READ MORE: More flights cancelled on Monday with holidaymakers facing huge queues

Airport bosses at Manchester apologised this weekend after they admitted they had "fallen short of the standards they expected".

As the Easter getaway increases travel, similar problems have hit other airports including Heathrow and Birmingham.

Ms Smart took on the managing director role at the start of the pandemic and has worked for MAG for eight years, including a stint in charge at East Midlands Airport.

MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish said: "Over the last two years, Karen has guided Manchester Airport through the most challenging period of its 84-year history, having made a major contribution to MAG throughout her time with the business.

"I am sorry to lose Karen after her years of valuable service, but also understand her desire to return to the south for family reasons and indeed to explore new career opportunities.

"While there are sure to be further challenges ahead, I am confident we will soon start to see the benefits of the recovery plans Karen has helped put in place."

Ian Costigan moves from his post as group transformation director to become interim managing director.

Manchester Airport, along with much of the aviation industry, has struggled to recruit staff made redundant after the pandemic shut down airports and travel.

Earlier on Tuesday, John O'Neill, North West regional industrial officer for Unite, said union officials were meeting management at the airport to discuss pay.

He said after mass redundancies due to Covid, some workers have found alternative jobs with similar wages and may not be willing to return to work at the airport doing unsocial hours for similar rates of pay.