UK & World News
Gatwick Staff To Help Ease Baggage Crisis
Gatwick Airport is hoping to ease its current luggage crisis by bringing in its own staff to help.
A number of airlines at Gatwick use baggage-handling company Swissport to deal with the luggage and there are worries that staff shortages affecting the handler may lead to further chaos this weekend.
Last weekend's troubles led to some airline passengers having to fly abroad without their luggage while others had big problems when they came back into Gatwick, with long delays as they waited to reclaim their bags.
Richard Sargent, 23, a wheelchair basketball player for Team GB who returned on Sunday from holiday in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh, had to wait more than four hours for his wheelchair.
"I was left stranded in baggage reclaim. I was not asking for special treatment, just to be able to freely move around the terminal and use the toilet," Mr Sargent told the Daily Telegraph.
Swissport said it had increased the number of staff it was using last weekend but was still unable to deal with all the arrivals.
It is understood that the company is using staff on zero-hours contract who could be reluctant to work unsocial hours - the baggage problem was at its worse late on Saturday evening and into the early hours of Sunday.
A Gatwick spokesman said: "Bags on 95% of scheduled flights into Gatwick are delivered to passengers in the reclaim halls within 55 minutes.
"We want all bags on all flights to be delivered within this time frame and so are working closely with the small number of airlines which employ Swissport to help improve the baggage delivery service.
"While Swissport is directly employed by the airlines to provide ground handling services, including baggage delivery, Gatwick has been supplementing their staff by up to 25% to assist with baggage delivery and other ground handling services in recent weeks."
The spokesman added: "Gatwick will continue to carefully monitor Swissport's performance and offer assistance to them as required over the remainder of the summer to minimise the impact on passengers and safeguard our expected level service."