Swissport say that the delays on Sunday were due to planes arriving earlier and later than their scheduled times / PA

The latest predictions follow delays at the airport last weekend when holidaymakers waited up to five hours for their bags

Airlines have warned travellers flying from Gatwick this weekend that they could run the risk of travelling without their luggage as the airport faces a critical shortage of baggage handlers.

On what could be one of the busiest weekends for air travel this year, staff shortages at the luggage handling company Swissport could potentially lead to a number of travellers arriving at their respective destinations without bags.

The Swiss-owned baggage handling service supplier provides assistance for airlines including British Airways, Virgin, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson but has come under fire of late due to a shortage of staff and poor service.

The worry for airlines is that this could be the tip of the iceberg, with many expecting the summer holiday period to be filled with instances of delays as Swissport struggle to cope with the demand.

According to The Telegraph, two airlines have already said they fear that the situation could get worse over the next four months, with the majority of airlines tied into contracts with Swissport until then.

The ominous forebodings come just days after a shortage in Swissport staff led to chaotic scenes in Gatwick’s baggage reclaim area at the weekend.

On Sunday, holidaymakers travelling with British Airways, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson and easyjet had to wait up to five hours for luggage, with other travellers being advised to go home where arrangements would be made to deliver their luggage to them.

Some of those passengers that were told to wait for their luggage at home, have still not received their bags - five days after the event.

Following the incident Swissport, made a public apology, saying the problems were caused by “a level of off schedule activity”, or planes arriving or taking off earlier or later than planned.

Swissport are under increased pressure after The Telegraph reported that Monarch Airlines have decided to cancel their contract with Swissport following problems over the last week.

A spokesman for Gatwick said that the airport was working with Swissport to ensure a better service in the future.

He said: “Gatwick is working closely with its airlines to improve the performance of Swissport in line with the airport’s own high standards of passenger service.”