Northern Ireland news

Belfast International Airport queues continue despite recruitment drive

Queues for security checks stretched beyond the queue lanes, down the stairs and out towards check-in desks. Picture by Darren Marshall/Twitter

BELFAST International Airport passengers have continued to experience long queues through security despite a new firm being recruited two months ago.

Frustrated travellers complained of security checks on Thursday night stretching beyond the queue lanes, down the stairs and out towards check-in desks.

The airport confirmed it is still advising passengers to leave two hours waiting time to get from check-in to the departure gates.

One traveller posted a picture online of the crowds waiting to be processed, saying it took her more than 80 minutes to get through security.

Queues for security checks at Belfast International stretched beyond the queue lanes. Picture by Darren Marshall/Twitter

"I made my flight by the skin of my teeth. I feel so sorry for those who may not have when it was beyond their control. Despite staff efforts this looked/felt like a resource issue," she said.

There were reports that one of the bag scanners was not working.

Passenger Helen McMorris described it was the "worst I've ever seen the airport in the 10 years that I have been regularly travelling through it".

Last year former security contractor ICTS recruited an extra 40 new staff to tackle delays.

However, problems continued and the airport parted ways with the company to bring in Wilson James.

It began providing the service on November 1, pledging to recruit 50 new staff and offering an "improved pay deal".

Wilson James said it "inherited a staffing shortage from the previous provider which has continued to impact the service delivery" and insisted that the recruitment process was "already under way and candidates are moving through a rigorous security vetting process to ensure that aviation security standards are maintained".

Struggle To Cope

However, two months on, it has emerged that there are still not enough staff to cope with passenger numbers.

"Our security provider, Wilson James, are making strenuous efforts to cope as efficiently as possible with passenger volumes and they are actively recruiting more staff," an airport spokeswoman said yesterday.

"We would like to reassure our passengers that we are making headway in addressing the challenges at central search. In the meantime, we would continue to advise passengers to allow two hours to proceed through central search as they make their way to departure gates and airside facilities."

She added that Belfast International Airport "acknowledges the frustration expressed by some passengers over the length of time it took them to process through central search" and apologised to passengers for the delays.

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