‘No-show’ job-hunters fuelling airport chaos and delays, recruitment insider says

3 July 2022, 15:02 | Updated: 3 July 2022, 15:08

'We are experiencing the largest number of no shows that I've ever see'

By Asher McShane

"No-show" job hunters have been blamed for exacerbating the chaotic scenes at airports that have been blighting the travel plans of millions people in recent months.

A recruitment veteran named Kully from Rugby rang in to LBC to tell Sangita Myska: “I’m a recruiter who has worked in the aviation industry for the last 20 years.

“We are seeing large amounts of applicants… when we are shortlisting those candidates to discuss vacancies, we are experiencing the largest amount of no-shows that I’ve ever experienced in 20 years.

“It baffles me that people will spend their time, send their CV, have a telephone-based interview, agree to attend an interview or assessment, and then not even bother turning up.

Read more: Airport chaos: security checks for new workers fast-tracked

Read more: 'Disorganised hell': Chaos at UK airports as holidaymakers face 3-hour security queues

A caller told LBC that 'no show' job hunters were fuelling chaos at airports
A caller told LBC that 'no show' job hunters were fuelling chaos at airports. Picture: Alamy

“Three weeks ago I was recruiting… [for customer service and security guards]. We booked 40 candidates, 18 turned up.

“Of those 18 individuals, we were left with 11 people [after initial checks and interviews].

“Now those 11 individuals, we have a 50pc drop-out rate. They will fail security checks, people will change their mind, people will get job offers elsewhere. People don’t want to work the shifts, they don’t want to work weekends, or they may have job offers elsewhere.”

He said “a large portion” of the problems he faced were because of Brexit and difficulties caused by the pandemic, and raised security concerns over plans to 'fast-track' applicants, that were announced today.

Some of the UK's airports were being deluged with complaints by customers again today, while other travellers are braced for chaos after warnings of summer of holiday disruption across Europe.

Countries across the Continent are being forced to grapple with mass strikes over wage-busting inflation, and crippling post-Covid staffing shortages.

Ministers have promised to fast-track security testing for new airport workers, but this won't come fast enough for some with chaotic scenes reported at UK airports yet again today.

Holidaymakers posted pictures of bags piling up at Heathrow airport due to 'staff shortages.' Others meanwhile complained of waiting as long as two hours before their bags emerged at Gatwick Airport. It was a similar story at Bristol airport with customers posting pictures of huge queues to get their bags and complaining of hour-long waits.

One person complained about Gatwick this morning, writing online: "Why is there no communication at north terminal in regards to peoples baggage. People have been waiting 3hrs with no communication from you! This is unacceptable!"

Another said: "We've been waiting for our luggage for nearly 2 hours, sort it out."

One passenger flying from Heathrow described the "chaos" and "lengthy wait times" at Terminal 2.

Craig Lester, 49, was travelling to Shannon, Ireland, and said "space is at a premium".

"There simply is not enough space to queue," Mr Lester, a television engineer from north Devon, told the PA news agency.

"At security it is lengthy wait times. It took me over 90 minutes from walking into the terminal until I eventually got through security. I hate to see what it will look like during school holidays in August."

Mr Lester described seeing "some flare-ups" between the public and employees, adding: "The staff are under pressure, I can't blame them. People have them under pressure."

"It is unbelievably uncomfortable," he added from the plane.

The issues will be made worse as BA staff at Heathrow go on strike in the next two months, but workers across the continent are also planning strikes.

French air staff are striking this weekend, In Spain, Ryanair staff are going on strike this week at the airline's bases, including Madrid, Malaga, Barcelona, Alicante, Sevilla, Palma, Valencia, Girona, Santiago de Compostela and Ibiza. 

EasyJet workers will stage mass walkouts in Barcelona, Malaga and Palma as they demand a 40% salary increase. They have also pencilled in July 15-17 and July 29-31 as dates for further strikes.

Ministers battling to dampen the chaos at airports claim security tests for new workers are being completed in record times as passengers criticised "disaster movie" scenes.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is trying to alleviate flight disruption this summer to avert the mayhem seen over the Easter and Jubilee holidays.

Shortages of staff to handle baggage and carry out security checks such as X-rays are fuelling long queues and delays at UK airports.

The Government has ordered the vetting centre to prioritise checks for airports so new recruits can help plug the gaps quicker.

The Department of Transport (DfT) said counter-terrorist checks for aviation workers are now being processed on average in under 10 days - half March's time.

Accreditation checks are also being sped up to be completed within five days on average, according to the department.

But in the short term, the staffing shortages appear to be hitting Heathrow airport.

Passenger Adam Kent, 59, said baggage reclaim "looked like a scene from a disaster movie" after arriving at Terminal 3 from Orlando, Florida.

"(There was) lost luggage everywhere, stacked between baggage belts, everyone stepping over it and no-one doing anything about it," Mr Kent, from Worcestershire, told the PA news agency.

"Being brutally honest, it looks like a serious health and safety issue.

"No-one visible on the ground to explain the carnage or sort out the mess, it seems like lots of luggage has not arrived with passengers and just been dumped."

Mr Kent said there was "appalling customer service" at the airport, adding: "Staff (were) nowhere to be seen, everyone was pretty shocked.

"The left and abandoned luggage was left unsecured and could easily be stolen... No duty of care shown to passengers' possessions."

Mr Shapps, who has devised a 22-point plan to help limit the disruption, welcomed the latest statistics.

"People have made huge sacrifices during the pandemic and deserve their flights to run on time, without complications and without being cancelled last minute," he said.

"While this is a challenging time for the sector, it is not acceptable for the current disruption to continue as we head into the summer peak.

"The public deserves to know now whether or not their flight will run over the summer, and so I reiterate my call for the industry to commit to deliver the flights they have scheduled, or to cancel them well in advance so people can make other arrangements.

"Building on our 22-point plan to help the industry minimise disruption, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure this summer is a great success for the British public."

But Labour accused the Government of having been "missing in action".

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: "The part-time Transport Secretary didn't hold a single meeting to tackle the chaos between Easter and the Jubilee weekend and now he's desperately trying to play catch-up.

"These re-announced half-measures will do little to clear the huge delays in security checks and tackle the chronic low pay holding the industry back."

However, the DfT said Mr Shapps held an aviation roundtable to discuss the disruption with airports, airlines and ground handling companies on June 1.Hundreds of passengers’ bags piled up again at Heathrow airport today after warnings of a summer of holiday chaos.