The Department for Transport (DfT) has assured it was speeding up the process to give aviation staff security clearance while disruption continues at UK airports.
Counter-terrorism checks are now being processed in 10 days on average – half the time it took in March – while accreditation now takes 5 days, Sky News first reported.
“While this is a challenging time for the sector, it is not acceptable for the current disruption to continue as we head into the summer peak,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps.
“The public deserves to know now whether or not their flight will run over the summer, and so I reiterate my call for the industry to commit to deliver the flights they have scheduled, or to cancel them well in advance so people can make other arrangements.”
Delays in clearing staff have been pinpointed by the industry as one of the biggest reasons behind the disruption.
Under the current system, airlines need to ask candidates to get their references from their previous employers but as most people changed multiple jobs due to the pandemic, it contributes to delays.
To speed up the process, the DfT said on Thursday it would allow for greater flexibility over background checks, allowing employers to use an HMRC letter to verify five years of employment checks.
The decision was part of the government’s 22-point plan for aviation, City A.M. reported.
The strategy – which comes just as thousands of Britons get ready for the summer break – is aimed at avoiding the mayhem seen at airports during the Easter and half-term breaks.
Despite the government’s efforts, passengers continue to report major chaos at UK airports.
A frustrated traveller today complained about not having enough space to queue at Heathrow.
“At security it is lengthy wait times. It took me over 90 minutes from walking into the terminal until I eventually got through security,” 49-year-old Craig Lester said. “I hate to see what it will look like during school holidays in August.”
The west-London hub is expected to announce a fresh wave of cancellations by Friday, the Telegraph reported yesterday.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary told the Financial Times travellers will face travel chaos for years, with airfares rising over the next five years.
“[Flying] has got too cheap for what it is,” he told the outlet. “I find it absurd every time that I fly to Stansted, the train journey into central London is more expensive than the air fare.”