100 extra staff enlisted by Gatwick Airport to beat baggage chaos


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The Independent Travel

Gatwick Airport has up to 60 staff on standby to ensure there is no repeat of last week’s chaos that left some passengers being told to go home without their baggage.

The contingency plan was put in place as at least one airline, Monarch, is understood to be ending its contract with Swissport, the baggage handling company at Gatwick.

Swissport, which has been criticised for its use of zero-hours contracts, apologised for the staff shortages that caused the baggage handling chaos and said it has brought in an extra 40 workers to cope with high passenger numbers this weekend.

Gatwick managers have also drafted in 60 of their own staff to help with baggage handling with a spokesman saying: "While we are not anticipating issues with arriving baggage delivery this weekend, we do have a robust contingency plan in place. This includes providing an additional 60 staff to support the Swissport operation.”

He added: “Gatwick is operating well and passengers booked to fly through Gatwick this weekend are advised to do so as planned.

"We would like to reiterate that the issues we saw last weekend were limited to arriving bags and delivery has been good since the weekend."

Nevertheless, the travel organisation Abta is advising travellers to pack essential items such as medicine and mobiles in their hand luggage. A spokeswoman said: "There have been notable delays at Gatwick's baggage reclaim on inbound flights over recent weeks. We hope customers flying through Gatwick enjoy a smoother service this weekend.”

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways' parent company IAG, intensified pressure on Swissport when he warned that “we have options” if the quality of service isn’t addressed.

"At this stage we are working with them,” he told ITV. “We are satisfied they are putting the right measures in place and I'm confident they will resolve them. If they don't we will certainly look at other opportunities."