Gatwick chaos: Airline axes baggage handler Swissport after extended delays
Monarch understood to have ended contracts with highly criticised firm
Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith is a freelance reporter. She was nominated for business journalist of the year at the Press Gazette British Journalism Awards 2012 and her name is so long that she has a double-decker byline in print.
Thursday 31 July 2014
Carrier and tour operator Monarch Airlines is understood to have axed contracts with Swissport, the baggage handling company under fire for its poor performance that led to chaos at Gatwick airport last weekend.
The BBC reports that Monarch Airlines has ended two contracts with the baggage firm at Gatwick and in Manchester, following last weekend’s fiasco that saw people waiting up to three hour to collect their luggage.
On Thursday airlines warned travellers flying from Gatwick over the coming weekend that they could run the risk of travelling without their luggage due to the shortage of baggage handlers.
On Sunday, hundreds of travellers were advised to leave Gatwick airport without their luggage as “resourcing issues” – believed to have been down to Swissport being understaffed – had left passengers from British Airways, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook and Thomson waiting for over 90 minutes for their luggage before being told their bags would be delivered to them separately.
Monarch would not comment on its actions with Swissport, but said in a statement: “Monarch Airlines work closely with a number of third party service providers across our bases to provide services such as baggage handling.
“We are working closely with London Gatwick airport and our ground handling agent to improve service levels for customers flying with us.”
Gatwick Airport has been more forthright in its opinions of Swissport’s service. A spokesperson for the airport said the baggage company had “failed to meet” the airport’s standards. It added that while Swissport’s bags are being delivered on time for 95 per cent of flights, it is “not good enough”.
The airport is working closely with Swissport to help the company improve its service by “providing additional staff”.
Gatwick’s spokesperson said: “This has been frustrating for passengers and we are disappointed with the recent arrival baggage service.
“Although we are not permitted to unload the aircraft, we are assisting with transport of bags to the terminal and the unloading of bags onto belts. We’ve also introduced a free baggage home delivery service for those who prefer not to wait.”
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