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Grant Shapps unveils measure to ease flights chaos

New recruits in the aviation sector will be permitted to begin training before passing security checks to ease flight disruption, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced (Steve Parsons/PA)
New recruits in the aviation sector will be permitted to begin training before passing security checks to ease flight disruption, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced (Steve Parsons/PA)

New aviation recruits will be permitted to begin training before passing security checks to ease flight disruption, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.

Passengers have faced chaos in recent weeks, with flights cancelled and long queues at airports.

British Airways is axing around 100 short-haul flights at Heathrow every day due to staff shortages.

Travellers have reported being forced to wait for several hours to pass through security and passport checks at airports such as Birmingham, Manchester and Heathrow.

Mr Shapps said he will “look for ways to try to assist” the sector but will not “compromise in any way, shape or form with aviation security and safety”.

He told the Commons’ Transport Select Committee on Wednesday: “I have looked at the rules and found an area where we can assist with the bureaucracy, particularly with regard to new people coming into the industry, and their need to be security checked.

“We can begin the training, without exposing them to the parts of the training which are security-related, without having the security check complete, as long as it’s complete before they start the security-related stuff.

“I have a Statutory Instrument – I think it comes to the House today – to do exactly that.”

He added: “This is an example of how we’ll try to work with the sector, but in the end they will have to resolve these problems by getting people in the right places.”

Mr Shapps said he called British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle into his office on Tuesday to discuss recent disruption.

The Cabinet minister told the committee that Mr Doyle explained that the problems are “growing pains in lots of different directions”.

Mr Shapps said the airline has found it “quite difficult” to recruit enough ground staff such as baggage handlers in a “very, very tight employment market”.

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