Manchester Airport bosses say they do not have staff to give service that passengers deserve

Credit: MEN Media

The chief executive of Manchester Airports Group has written an open letter apologising to passengers.

Charlie Cornish warned that peak-time queues of up to 90 minutes are likely to continue until the summer - admitting there is no short-term fix for the staffing crisis.He added that passengers should continue to turn up to the airport three hours early.

Mr Cornish says the airport's short-term inability to staff all security lanes will mean longer queues over the 'next few months', and some passengers could wait "between 60 and 90 minutes" at peaks times as the hub recovers from the pandemic."I cannot apologise enough for the disruption people have faced," he writes in a letter published on Manchester Airport's website."The simple fact is that we don’t currently have the number of staff we need to provide the level of service that our passengers deserve,” he admits.

He adds: "I also want to be clear that a huge amount of work is going into improving the situation in the short-term.

"Our focus for the next four weeks is on delivering a more predictable and reliable level of service for passengers."

Chief executive Charlie Cornish has apologised to passengers Credit: MEN MEDIA

The statement comes as passengers continue to experience disruption, delays, long queues and missed flights.

A staffing shortage has led to unprecedented intervention from major shareholder Manchester City Council, and Mayor Andy Burnham and coincided with the resignation of the airport's managing director, Karen Smart.Mr Cornish promised to deploy more staff to help manage queues, with real time information to be published online and in terminals.

Urging passengers to arrive three hours early to allow enough time to check-in, get through security and reach the departure gate, he says the alternative would be to cap capacity and cancel flights "as other airports and airlines are doing".He also revealed the scope of the airport's recruitment drive, with "more than 4,000" people interviewed over the past two months, many of whom have started, with a further 250 new hires expected to start in early May following security vetting and training."To achieve this, we are busy recruiting new officers and taking them through the rigorous training and testing needed to work in aviation security," he says.

"We are doing this in one of the most challenging employment markets we have seen, with competition from many other businesses that find themselves in the same position.“These vetting processes are rightly demanding, but they have made it more difficult for us to recruit the people we need, with more than half of those we offer jobs to finding another vacancy before the process is complete.”

Passengers are being told to arrive at least three hours before their flight, with a warning they could face queues for security.

Manchester Airport has been charged in recent weeks with a 'failure of management' and being 'too late' with its recruitment.

On the more than 2,000 redundancies among staff employed by both Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and outside agencies, he adds: "When the pandemic struck, we were faced with almost no income and huge fixed costs.

"Doing nothing was not an option. We had to cut costs just to survive – it was as simple as that.

"We reduced expenditure wherever we could, and as a last resort we had to offer colleagues the option of voluntary redundancy because of the uncertainty about when international travel would resume."The management team have faced criticism from Unite the union over their 'strategy of mass redundancies', pay packages and staff morale.