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Birmingham airport boss: Government U-turn causing long security waits

Simon Calder’s Travel

The boss of Birmingham airport has hit back at criticism of long waits for security queues – saying a last-minute decision by the government had created “a very difficult situation for us”.

Many passengers have complained about long queues at the checkpoint, with some travellers missing flights as a result.

Chief executive Nick Barton says most passengers are getting through security in under half an hour, with additional procedures in place to cope with peaks.

The West Midlands hub was the only major UK airport to comply with the 1 June 2024 deadline for installing “Next Generation” security scanners.

The scanners are designed to allow security staff to get a much clearer picture of any potentially threatening items in passengers’ cabin baggage – and permit travellers to carry much larger quantities of liquids, aerosols and gels (“LAGs”) through the checkpoint than the 100ml container limit.

Birmingham airport invested £60m in the new equipment ahead of the summer peak. The intention was to accelerate the security process. But Department for Transport (DfT) officials did not sign off a relaxation of the liquids limit – and then reverted to the previous 100ml limit nationwide.

As a result many more bags than expected are being rejected – and removed for a hand search.

“Unfortunately, unforeseen events have got in the way of a good strategy and created a very difficult situation for us here at Birmingham,” Mr Barton told The Independent.

“We are still struggling with the consequences of these changes, but we’re working on our plan to improve things.”

Marquees have been erected outside the terminal to allow “pre-screening” at peak times – in a bid to reduce the number of bags that are rejected at the checkpoint.

The airport CEO said: “The anxiety levels of passengers due to travel is off the scale. We need to try and bring that into a reality that people are much more comfortable with. The way we’re trying to do that is to focus on simple messages.

“Three hour queues are just not a thing that happens here.

“The core one is turn up to the airport when your airport airline tells you its check in is open, even if you don’t have a checked in bag to check in.

“Come here typically about three hours before your flight is to depart, which is consistent with broadly all airlines’ guidance.


Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…