Flight chaos will continue until June and impact summer holidays, airport boss warns

6 April 2022, 19:00 | Updated: 6 April 2022, 19:02

Tim Jeans has warned disruption at airports will continue until at least June
Tim Jeans has warned disruption at airports will continue until at least June. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Chaos at the UK's major airports is set to continue until June and have an impact on summer holidays, an airport boss has warned.

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Tim Jeans​, Chair of Cornwall Airport and former Managing Director of Monarch Airlines​, told LBC's Tonight with Andrew Pierce that problems of understaffing and long recruitment processes mean the chaos seen at the UK's major airports is not likely to abate for at least two months.

"We've got a problem, let's be quite clear about it," he said.

"And it's not one that's going to go away overnight, and I think despite everybody's best efforts it's probably going to be June before things return to anything like normal unfortunately."

Mr Jeans said the scale of the disruption would likely ease and waits could be "hours rather than days", but that "the experience of being able to get to the airport an hour before" is no longer a reality.

"I think on busy days, on Fridays, Saturdays, bank holidays, people will be already familiar with coming home on Sunday evening [to] long waits, long waits to check in, long waits for security, and long waits to collect your bags when you return," he said.

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"And that unfortunately at the moment is the reality of some air travel as we come out of the pandemic.

"In relative terms it's not going to be so horrendous, its going to be hours rather than days of delays, so it's not acceptable but it's not hopefully going to substantially spoil people's holidays or their weekend breaks away.

"But the experience of being able to get to the airport an hour before the plane took off... I think for the moment people will have to reckon to get to the airport at least three hours prior, and expect a long wait to check in."

Chair of Cornwall Airport Tim Jeans​ on Tonight with Andrew Pierce

Mr Jeans said the service experienced by some customers was "unacceptable", and explained why filling the vacancies at airports was so challenging,

"[Manchester Airport] have clearly under-recruited in their own security staff and some of their front of house people, but these are jobs that, as I say, are difficult to recruit to, they have extremely unsocial hours, relatively poor pay, and the notion that anybody was going to be able to get several hundred people onto their books, security-cleared, trained and online within a matter of weeks was just, well, it wasn't credible," he said.

"And unfortunately the passenger experience at Manchester has proved that."

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He also said the staff shortages were partly created by people leaving the aviation industry during the pandemic and not returning.

"What has happened is that, yes, they've been trying to recruit for months, but the reality is that a lot of people have left the industry altogether, an awful lot of people have decided to get jobs elsewhere," he said.

"The requirements for anybody with an aviation post are very vigorous when it comes to security, so security vetting, criminal records checking, all takes time.

"And some airlines and some airports have simply run out of time."