Exclusive:Edinburgh Airport baggage handler Swissport given yellow card ‘deficiency notice’ after long delays for passengers

Holidaymakers arriving back from Turkey suffered two-and-a-half wait

A baggage handling firm at the centre of long delays for passengers has been shown a yellow card by Scotland’s busiest airport for its poor service, The Scotsman has learned.

Swissport has been served with a “deficiency notice” by Edinburgh Airport, which is believed to be because it has insufficient staff and equipment to cope with its workload.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The move comes as more travellers suffered lengthy hold-ups, with one family having to wait two-and-a-half hours from touchdown to receiving their bags after a flight from Turkey on Saturday. Last week, one passenger accused Swissport of causing “overcrowded and chaotic” conditions at baggage reclaim.

An airport source said Swissport had neither enough baggage staff nor sufficient crates and trailers for luggage, which was causing “die back” or a backlog that had affected other airlines and handling agents. They said this had also forced the temporary suspension of bags being able to be checked in because of the congestion caused to the baggage system.

The deficiency notice requires Swissport, which also handles baggage and check-in for 24 other airlines at the airport, to come up with a remedial plan within about ten days. It could lead to the airport recruiting temporary staff to help plug the gaps, with Swissport being sent the bill. Swissport has admitted it is short of staff by revealing it was drafting in workers from other sites.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: "We have taken the unfortunate decision to issue a formal deficiency notice to Swissport following a number of meetings about recent performance. This notice requires Swissport to provide a detailed improvement plan for its operation and we will support them to overcome the challenges being faced.

“We continue to work closely with all handlers to understand their operational pressures, and we will offer assistance where we can."

Senior media executive Mike Hartley, who regularly flies from the airport, said foreign visitors were also suffering an “appalling experience”.

Mr Hartley, who returned from Dalaman with his family on a Freebird Airlines flight operated on behalf of Tui, for whom Swissport is the handling agent, said they had endured a series of delays before being able to leave the airport.

He said: "We waited an hour on the Tarmac for someone to arrive and place the steps, which were right by the aircraft, onto the plane for disembarkation. When we hit the baggage hall, it was like a scene from Beirut in the 1970s.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I would estimate well over 1,000 bags were lying around on the floor that had missed their owners. We waited 20 minutes to then be told there would be a further one-hour delay to get our bags, which turned into more like another 90 minutes. There were no staff to talk to and it took two-and-a-half hours from touching down to getting our bags.”

A Swissport spokesperson said: “We sincerely apologise for any passengers experiencing delays with check-in and baggage and recognise how frustrating this is for them.

"We remain determined to provide our dedicated staff with the support they need, which has included bringing in additional colleagues from other Swissport locations. We continue to work closely with our airline and airport partners to improve turnaround times."



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.