Government denies considering visa scheme to relieve pressure on under-staffed airports

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Travel agents are being inundated with telephone calls from customers worried their summer holidays will be disrupted as flight chaos continues (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
Travel agents are being inundated with telephone calls from customers worried their summer holidays will be disrupted as flight chaos continues (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

The Government has denied reports airport staff could be issued with temporary visas to help ease the staffing crisis causing misery at Britain’s airports.

It was reported Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was considering emergency action including issuing the visas similar to those given to fruit pickers and musicians but a Department for Transport spokesperson said it was “entirely untrue”.

Holidaymakers have endured a raft of cancellations with widespread disruption witnessed at airports since the start of the Easter holidays.

Airline and airport chiefs have been accused of failing to gear up and hire enough staff ahead of a rush for overseas holidays this year. Industry figures argue that strict rules during the Covid pandemic coupled with a lack of UK state aid meant they were wary about committing too early to a summer without travel restrictions.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said earlier this month: “We are going to have pinch points at the UK airports right through to the end of this summer until the kids go back to school in September.”

And Heathrow head John Holland-Kaye claimed last week that it will take up to 18 months for capacity to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “The Transport Secretary [has] made clear, we cannot always reach for the lever marked 'more immigration'. We are absolutely focused on seeing an end to the disruption at airports and will continue to work with industry, and listen to their suggestions, as we consider how best to solve the issues.

“This Government is committed to building a robust and dependable aviation industry, and launched the Aviation Skills Retention Platform last year to help develop, and hold onto, talent to boost recruitment in the sector.”

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