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Gatwick tackles luggage crisis

Asleep at the airport31/07/14

By Peter Woodman

Gatwick Airport is bringing in its own staff to help with the luggage crisis amid fears there could be further travel chaos this weekend. 

Staff shortages affecting baggage-handling company Swissport led to some passengers at the West Sussex airport having to fly abroad without their luggage last weekend.

Over four hours in baggage reclaim

Others ran into long delays in reclaiming bags having flown back to Gatwick.

Richard Sargent, a wheelchair basketball player for Team GB, was left waiting more than four hours for his wheelchair after returning from a holiday in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Mr Sargent, 23, who landed on a Thomson Airways flight at 1.25am on Sunday, told the Daily Telegraph:

"I was left stranded in baggage reclaim. I was not asking for special treatment, just to be able to freely move around the terminal and use the toilet."

Another traveller had still not got his suitcase by the middle of this week having flown to Paphos in Cyprus last weekend.

A number of UK airlines use Swissport and one of them, Monarch, is understood to be ending its contract with the company, although it is carrying on using them for the time being.

Swissport has said it put extra staff on last weekend to deal with "off-schedule arriving aircraft" but added that it was still not able to accommodate the handling of all these planes.

However, it is understood that the company is using staff on zero-hours contract who could be reluctant to work unsocial hours.

Most baggage "delivered to passengers within 55 minutes"

The baggage problem last weekend was at its most acute between 10.45pm on Saturday until the early hours of Sunday.

A Gatwick airport spokesman said: "Bags on 95% of scheduled flights into Gatwick are delivered to passengers in the reclaim halls within 55 minutes.

"We want all bags to be delivered within this time-frame and so are working closely with the small number of airlines which employ Swissport to help improve the baggage delivery service.

"Swissport is directly employed by the airlines to provide ground handling services, including baggage delivery.

"Gatwick, however, has been supplementing their staff by up to 25% to assist with baggage delivery and other ground handling services in recent weeks."

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