Edinburgh Airport chief says baggage fiasco ‘should have been avoidable’

Gordon Dewar admits passengers have had to wait too long for their bags

This summer’s major baggage disruption at Edinburgh Airport "should have been avoidable", its chief executive has said.

Gordon Dewar said passengers had been having to wait too long for their bags – which are the airlines’ responsibility – but there had been a “big improvement” in the situation.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He blamed the problems on disruption at hub airports across Europe delaying baggage and “under resourced” airline handling agents at Edinburgh Airport.

Edinburgh Airport said 7,500 passengers - 0.5 per of the total - had suffered baggage problems in July. (Photo by Karen McAvoy)Edinburgh Airport said 7,500 passengers - 0.5 per of the total - had suffered baggage problems in July. (Photo by Karen McAvoy)
Edinburgh Airport said 7,500 passengers - 0.5 per of the total - had suffered baggage problems in July. (Photo by Karen McAvoy)

The airport – Scotland’s busiest – has stressed that mislaid bags had affected only 0.5 per cent of its passengers last month, but that amounts to some 7,500 people.

It has come despite the airport and airlines expressing confidence there would be no repeat of last summer’s baggage difficulties caused by staff shortages following a rapid increase in air travel after the lifting of pandemic travel restrictions.

Mr Dewar, speaking at an aviation event at the Festival of Politics at the Scottish Parliament, said: “It is one of the most frustrating things at the moment because this should have been avoidable.

"We had it last year for understandable reasons. I don't think we should be seeing it again, but it's a network-wide problem and not created here.

“There's two fundamental problems at the moment. Because there's so much disruption in the wider network, we're getting a lot of aircraft arriving with passengers that don't have bags with them because they're not being put on the aircraft in hub airports across Europe or in London.

“So what that means is all of a sudden we've got 150 quite unhappy people who leave the airport without the bag and then the next day 150 bags turn up that we've got to find a way of getting to the people. No matter how well you do that, people are going to be pretty annoyed because they should have the bag in the first place.

“Then compounding that, the handling companies who operate that service on behalf of the airlines are under resourced at the moment, so we're seeing significant issues … instead of getting that bag to someone within 12 or 24 hours, it's been taking too long.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"So we've stepped in as the airport – this is not an area we manage directly – and we're bringing an additional third-party resource to help. While we can't stop the bags being sent to us a day late, what we can do is try and get the minimum time to get back to people so they're not waiting for three days for the bag. We're seeing a big improvement on that.”

Phil Lloyd, senior vice president UK of Menzies Aviation, one of the three handling agents at Edinburgh Airport, said: “Edinburgh Airport continues to see an increased number of delayed baggage arriving from other airports.

"We are in constant dialogue with the team at Edinburgh Airport and together understand the network-wide challenges driving this issue. To help ease these challenges, some weeks ago we introduced several new procedures, deployed additional resources and upgraded technology used at the airport to speed up the process of repatriation once bags arrive into Edinburgh.

"Since the changes were introduced, we have managed to keep up with the continuation of excessive volumes of missing bags sent from other hubs.”

Swissport, the other handling agent at the airport which has been affected, has been approached for comment.

Scottish Conservatives transport spokesperson Graham Simpson, who chaired the event, said: "Gordon Dewar is right to be frustrated if the root cause is bags not even arriving at Edinburgh. If luggage is not put on a plane bound for the capital, then that is not Edinburgh Airport's fault, though many people will blame them.

"It is an enormous hassle and inconvenience when luggage doesn't turn up, especially if you are not at home. I am pleased to see Edinburgh Airport taking steps to make sure people get their bags back quickly.

"They also need to establish why this issue has happened for the second year in a row."



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