'Business As Usual' At Gatwick Airport

Extra staff brought in to deal with potential baggage chaos at Gatwick airport have reported "business as usual", with customers experiencing little or no delay at reclaim carousels.

Contingency plans have been made at the airport to avoid a repeat of last weekend's problems, where some travellers arriving at the airport were sent home without their luggage due to lengthy delays.

Staff-shortage problems meant baggage-handling company Swissport was unable to cope with a succession of off-schedule arrivals at Gatwick late last Saturday night.

Swissport, which has apologised for the difficulties, has drafted in 40 extra staff to cope with the demand this weekend.

Gatwick management has also laid on staff to assist with the baggage operation, having been critical of Swissport's performance.

An airport spokesman said early indications this weekend showed all flights had so far met the time targets for returning luggage to the baggage claim area.

The spokesman said: "The average wait time in the hall this morning so far has been 30 minutes, which is no different to most other weekends.

"Going into the weekend we are not expecting any issues but we have put extra staff in place."

The spokesman said all of the 41 flights to arrive at Gatwick between 1am and 6am returned baggage to the carousel within 55 minutes of arrival.

Last week travel organisation Abta advised passengers to pack important items in their carry-on hand luggage.

And Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways' parent company IAG, said that Swissport had "some issues at Gatwick that they need to address, and if they don't address them to our satisfaction then we have options".

Mr Walsh said he was confident that Swissport would resolve their difficulties, while Gatwick management, stressing that last week's problems only affected incoming flights, also said they were expecting a smooth weekend.

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