Why Is London’s Heathrow Airport Facing a Crisis Over Delayed Baggage?

While there is a spike in demand for travel, there is also a severe manpower shortage.

2 min read
Hindi Female

Over the weekend, stunning images of baggage handling issues emerged from London's Heathrow airport, with airlines on Monday being consequently asked to cancel 10 percent of their flights from Terminals 2 and 3.

Around 15,000 passengers on 90 flights were estimated to be affected.

The issue is of delayed baggage, as bags are not being loaded into planes on time, and flights are leaving without carrying their the luggage. On the other hand, there are huge baggage queues that are causing passengers to miss their flights.

Why is this happening? The reason for this is staff shortages dating back to the peak of the COVID-19 pandmic, along with a spike in summer travel.


Spike in Travel, Fall in Staff

Many are leaving the UK for the first time in two years after the pandemic-induced lockdown with many EU countries easening COVID-19 testing requirements.

Additionally, according to The Guardian, many people saved money during the pandemic in order to spend it once travel fully resumes. Passengers are also using up their travel vouchers, refunds, and credit notes.

The demand, therefore, for trips, especially foreign ones, has increased very sharply.

At the same time, there is a severe manpower shortage at airports. Many working within the airport staff got laid off during the pandemic, while some voluntarily changed jobs.

Heathrow is trying to fix this by hiring more people, but training takes time. The airport operator has said that more than 500 people were going through background checks and security training, and only 200 are likely to join the airport staff this month.

This is not just a London problem. Amsterdam’s Schiphol, Brussels airport, and Frankfurt airport among others are witnessing similar crises.

While Indian carriers are not facing as big of a problem as other airlines like EasyJet and British Airways, ina tweet on Sunday, Air India did write: "Passengers who travelled from London Heathrow by AI130 (to Mumbai) & AI170 (to Amritsar) of 19.06.22 may not get their bags at destination airport in India due to Heathrow Airport Baggage System Failure. Our Heathrow team is working on sending the bags on priority. We request for your understanding."

(With inputs from Reuters and The Guardian.)

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Topics:  Heathrow Airport 

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