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Baggage disruption: The true price of low cost air travel?

As the busiest holiday take-off period of the year starts - thousands of passengers are facing possible baggage delays.

Gatwick and the baggage firm Swissport say they are doing all they can to keep things running smoothly.

Today accusations are emerging that the Gatwick problems reveal far deeper issues with modern aviation.

Insiders are telling me that the constant drive to keep seat prices low means that airlines want baggage contracts to be kept at the lowest cost possible.

Unions claim that a re-organisation at Gatwick led to dozens of baggage supervisors jobs going just months ago.

Credit: PA Wire

There are warnings that airports could face more problems like this.

When there were high levels of unemployment baggage workers were willing to accept low wages and anti-social hours.

As employment levels rise, I'm told, it is proving hard to retain and recruit staff.

All this leads to questions over whether the low cost model is workable as the economy picks up and workers have more opportunity to move to better paid jobs.

Credit: PA Wire

If Swissport continues to have problems, it seems likely other airports could be affected. It is the world largest baggage firm - taking care of 3.9 million flights a year.

Swissport said:

Robust systems are in place during the forthcoming weekend and will remain in place throughout the peak summer period.

We have contingency plans to manage any off schedule airline activity.

The suggestion that any issues are or have been caused by zero hour contracts is untrue and has no basis in fact.

Swissport continues to improve its service to its airline customers and the travelling public.

– Swissport

A Gatwick spokesperson told ITV News:

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 Airport