Councilor Martyn Cox, leader of Bolton Council, claimed the airport ‘had a big problem’ and ‘needed to get things under control’.
Manchester Airport has descended into chaos once again over the past week, with frustrated passengers facing huge queues and hours of flight delays.
Shocking footage showed people jostling for space as they walked through security, raising fears that “someone was hurt”.
Porters are said to be more stressed than ever due to unexpected demand and bosses have previously warned the chaos could continue for several weeks due to understaffing.
Between them, Greater Manchester Councils hold a 64.5% stake in MAG, which owns and operates the airport as well as London’s Stansted and East Midlands airports. Manchester City Council owns a 35.5% stake, along with an Australian investment fund, and the other nine councils hold the remaining 29% shares.
A source from one of the councils said labor shortages were at the heart of the problem in Manchester – and it was difficult to recruit staff at the same rate as passengers were returning.
“The reason Manchester is successful is because it’s the only major airport in the region,” they said.
“He had a huge staff reduction because he unfortunately had to let people go because of Covid. It has rebounded in terms of people passing through the airport at the same level, but cannot recover the same number of personnel.
Noting that MAG also owns Stansted, which hasn’t reported similar issues, the source said it has proven difficult to pick up staff as there is more competition for their work in Manchester – and the city has a smaller pool of people to draw from compared to London.
“It’s hard to bring people back because of the size of the city, the pool of people just isn’t the same,” they added. “He will rectify himself. It’s not company policy, it’s all about the job market in Manchester.
An airport spokesperson previously explained that they were undergoing a major recruitment drive to replace staff lost during the pandemic, but added that it takes time for new recruits to experience security checks and training. They added: “We are working as hard as we can to get to where we need to be.”
The airport is currently advertising roles in security, driving and other areas.
Andy Prendergast, general secretary of the GMB union, told 5 Live on Tuesday that better pay and conditions may be needed to attract new recruits.
What did the advisers say about the chaos at the airport?
Councilor Martyn Cox, leader of Bolton Council, said the airport ‘had a big problem’ and ‘needed to get things under control’.
He said: “Over the past seven days there have been significant issues, particularly getting through security. On some occasions it took over an hour and a half to get through and of course people have flights to catch.
“The airport has a big problem and needs to get it under control. We know what happened, they’ve been closed basically for the duration of the pandemic and now we’ve opened very quickly. People want to travel and they need to prepare very quickly.
“Obviously you can’t throw anyone on safety. They have to be trained and know what they’re doing. It takes a bit longer, but they have to improve their game before they start the season. If it’s not fixed by then, people will rightly try to look for alternative airports, they won’t use it and it will damage their reputation.
Stockport Council Leader Councilor Elise Wilson also said the situation needed to be rectified urgently.
“This is clearly not an acceptable situation at Manchester Airport and we hope, for the benefit of families planning their holidays, that this improves quickly,” she said.
“We have been assured that there is a plan in place to fill vacancies at the airport so passengers can expect much better service. Having recently launched Greater Manchester’s international strategy and represented the city region on a recent mission to Ireland, we know the importance of the airport as a gateway to the world.