Leeds Bradford Airport welcomes government proposal to ease background checks on new employees in bid to relieve holiday queues

Leeds Bradford Airport has welcomed proposals by the UK government to ease the extensive background checks carried out on new employees at British airports.

By Alex Grant
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 4:30 pm

Proposed new measures would see new hires cleared for training before background checks are complete.

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It comes as airports across the country struggle to deal with passenger numbers returning to pre-pandemic levels.

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With many staff having been let go at the height of the pandemic airports now face a race against time to hire and train new staff. Picture: James Hardisty.

With many staff having been let go at the height of the pandemic airports now face a race against time to hire and train new staff.

Current legislation stipulates that companies must have completed background checks on new hires before they can begin training.

The move comes as part of proposals put forward by aviation minister Robert Courts.

A spokesperson for Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “We welcome any initiatives from government that assist the current recruitment process. Passengers have returned to LBA and other airports across the UK at a rapid rate as international travel has resumed.

"Our passenger levels are currently at 76 per cent of what they were pre-pandemic and we have been recruiting hard to meet this demand. Streamlining the recruitment process will support our ongoing efforts and the overall recovery of the industry.”

Although they can be trained, staff will not be allowed to work in the airside part of an airport until security clearance is complete.

UK airlines have cancelled as many as 1,000 flights a week recently because of staff shortages, with travellers from airports including Heathrow, Manchester and Leeds Bradford experiencing lengthy delays.

Passenger numbers in March were almost three times greater than in January and continue to grow with airports across the country being impacted by lead times to recruit and train additional staff.

Disgruntled passengers have taken to social media in recent weeks to voice their displeasure at the increasing wait times.

One user described 6am queues at LBA "stretching the length of the terminal."

While another passenger described the 'fast track' lane - a paid for service which allows you to skip the regular security queues - as the 'slow track'.

Referencing and vetting on new staff usually requires between 14 and 15 weeks to complete and is performed by a combination of the aviation industry and Department for Transport.