European airports have called on authorities to offer faster security clearance to new employees to help ease long queues and delays seen at some airports in recent weeks.
Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe (Airports Council International), and Fabio Gamba, managing director of ASA (Airport Services Association), have come to together to urge action to help ease potential delays at airports over the peak summer months.
Most airports, particularly large hubs, are expecting the disruption to get worse this summer, partly due to current security and training rules when recruiting new employees.
They pointed out that the recovery in European air traffic had “accelerated sharply and suddenly”, with passenger numbers “much more concentrated” at peak periods, even though overall traffic remains below pre-Covid 2019 levels.
Airports and ground handlers are struggling to recruit enough staff to cope with the upsurge in demand. They said current training and security clearance requirements are making it “impossible to quickly adapt and deploy additional staff”, which means delays of up to 16 weeks between recruitment and deployment.
ACI Europe and ASA said there was “no quick and easy fix” in the short-term to the challenges of airports having to scale up so quickly this summer.
But they said that disruption could be reduced by aviation authorities allowing faster security clearance for airport and ground handling staff.
Airlines should also adapt their schedules to “reduce traffic peaks and returning unused slots as early as possible”.
ACI and ASA said that in the medium-term, the EU’s rules on ground handling “need to be reconsidered with a renewed focus on resilience”.
Two-thirds of European airports expect flight delays to increase this summer, while 35 per cent are forecasting that the “staff crunch” will affect operations beyond the current summer season.