'Business as usual' at Gatwick Airport despite baggage fears

Staff at Gatwick Airport have said it is "business as usual" today despite fears over potential delays at baggage reclaim.

Gatwick Airport is bringing in its own staff to help with the luggage crisis amid fears there could be further travel chaos this weekend.

Staff shortages affecting baggage-handling company Swissport led to some passengers at the West Sussex airport having to leave without their luggage last weekend.

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'Business as usual' at Gatwick despite baggage fears

Staff at Gatwick Airport have said it is "business as usual" today despite fears over potential delays at baggage reclaim.

Passengers have so far avoided long delays in picking up their baggage at Gatwick. Credit: PA Wire

Extra workers had been drafted in as part of a contingency plan to avoid last weekend's disruption where passengers faced long delays to pick up their luggage.

"The average wait time in the hall this morning so far has been 30 minutes, which is no different to most other weekends," a Gatwick spokesman said.

"Going into the weekend we are not expecting any issues but we have put extra staff in place."

40 extra baggage staff drafted in at Gatwick Airport

Forty extra baggage staff are being drafted in at Gatwick Airport to prevent any repeat of the chaos they experienced last weekend.

Passengers have been advised to pack important items in their hand luggage. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Staff shortages meant baggage-handling company Swissport was unable to cope with a succession of off-schedule arrivals late last Saturday night.

Arriving travellers were told to go home without their bags or face long delays.

But Swissport, who has apologised for the problems, said it had drafted in 40 extra staff to cope with demand this weekend, which is expected to be one of the airport's busiest.

Gatwick management is also laying on staff to assist with the baggage operation.

They stressed last week's problems only affected incoming flights and said they were expecting a "smooth weekend."

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Gatwick Airport 'not anticipating baggage problems'

Gatwick Airport has said it is not anticipating any baggage issues this weekend.

The airport said it had "robust contingency plans" in place, with 60 extra staff on standby to support baggage handlers Swissport.

Thomas Cook 'working to prevent baggage delays'

Airline Thomas Cook has said it is working to ensure its customers do not experience baggage delays at Gatwick Airport.

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook told ITV News that the company was disappointed that recent baggage issues - which led to delays of up to four hours last weekend - had affected "too many passengers".

Gatwick is drafting in its own staff to help with baggage handling following issues with baggage handling firm Swissport.

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports:

Swissport deny zero-hours contracts caused problems

Baggage handling company Swissport has denied claims zero-hours contracts were to blame for the disruption at Gatwick Airport last weekend.

Staff shortages at the company forced hundreds of passengers to go home without their luggage and left others waiting for up to five hours to reclaim their bags at the airport on July 27.

The scene at Gatwick Airport last weekend. Credit: @sophiewood64

The firm told ITV News' Chris Choi the "suggestion that issues may have been caused by zero hour contracts is untrue".

Despite warnings that passengers could face yet more problems this weekend, Swissport said all services this morning were meeting targets.

"Baggage services to client airlines to 7am this morning was good and within its targets. There were no appreciable delays," the company said.

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Walsh 'to look at other options' if Gatwick issues remain

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways parent company IAG, has told ITV News he is prepared to look at other options if baggage handlers Swissport fail to resolve their issues at Gatwick Airport.

Gatwick said Swissport had "failed to meet standards" after hundreds of passengers faced long delays to reclaim their baggage last weekend.

"I think they (Swissport) have some issues at Gatwick that they need to address, and if they don't address them to our satisfaction then we have options," he told ITV News' Chris Choi.

"At this stage we are working with them. We are satisfied they are putting the right measures in place and I'm confident they will resolve them

"If they don't we will certainly look at other opportunities."

Willie Walsh apologises for Gatwick baggage disruption

International Airlines chief executive Willie Walsh has apologised to passengers for the baggage problems at Gatwick Airport.

Mr Walsh told ITV News that he will consider other options if baggage handling firm Swissport fail to resolve the problems that caused widespread disruption last weekend.

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi tweeted:

Passengers told to pack essential items in hand luggage

Passengers have been told to pack essential items in their hand luggage to prepare for the possibility of more baggage chaos at Gatwick.

Hundreds of passengers were affected by the disruption last weekend. Credit: PA Wire

A spokeswoman for travel organisation Abta said today: "We hope people can pass through Gatwick smoothly this weekend. But if people are concerned it would be a good idea for them to put essential items in their carry-on bags.

"Both Gatwick and Swissport are putting on extra people and we are confident this should help address the problem."

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