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Stansted security lines warning

WE ALWAYS stress to all our customers that it is vital to arrive at the airport at least one-and-a-half hours before your flight time, particularly at busy times of the year, such as Christmas. This advice is reinforced by the news that, according to the consumer magazine Which?, more than 150 Ryanair passengers missed their flights from Stansted in one week in September because of long check-in queues.

In busy holiday periods, up to 45,000 people a day use the London airport and Ryanair has blamed the British Airports Authority (BAA) for the delays, saying it is failing to provide enough staff, despite a security upgrade since the August 10 terror alert. “Ryanair apologises to all our passengers for the continuing security delays at Stansted, caused by the failure of BAA, which runs Stansted Airport, (as well as Gatwick, Heathrow, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Southampton) to fully staff their security points through peak periods,” said a spokesman.

According to Ryanair’s Stansted security log, in the first two weeks of November, the 14 security desks at Stansted were only fully manned for a total of 14 hours. On many days several security desks allegedly remained closed all day. On the two Saturdays monitored, at the busiest time between 8am and 10am, as many as nine of the 14 security desks remained unmanned, they claim.

A spokesman for BAA Stansted said new staff were being recruited to alleviate the problem. “By early December there will be 160 new staff in place,” he said. “After August 10, the world changed and we didn’t have to cope with these security restrictions before then. But we have been recruiting new staff since.”

Ryanair has said it has taken too long for anything to have been done. “BAA Stansted plan to fix this staffing problem sometime in December, four months after the events of August 10,” said a spokesman. “This is simply not good enough. These queues and delays are unique to Stansted and don’t happen at any of the other 18 UK airports from which Ryanair operates.”

BAA announced this week that it would employ an additional 500 security staff across all of its airports and spend more money on X-ray machines following the security alert at London airports.

“Our additional investment in nearly 500 new security staff amounts to an extra 16 million pounds sterling a year on top of the 200 million plus that we already spend on security,” said BAA chief executive Stephen Nelson.

Easyjet, which also flies out of Stansted, said it had had no problems with BAA over passengers clearing security in time.

A spokeswoman said that if someone arrived at Stansted in plenty of time, but failed to make their flight due to queues at check-in or security, it would rebook them on the next available flight at no extra cost.

A British Airways spokesman said it would consider the issue on a case-by-case basis.