Belfast International Airport chief ‘humiliated’ as up to 70 passengers miss flights

Belfast International Airport has apologised after a security fiasco left hundreds of passengers stuck in long queues and led to scores of people missing their flights.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 2:53 pm
Updated Monday, 11th March 2019, 4:00 pm
A line of passengers queue outside the main terminal building at Belfast International Airport on Monday.
A line of passengers queue outside the main terminal building at Belfast International Airport on Monday.

Social media was abuzz this morning as pictures emerged of travellers standing in security lines stretching outside the terminal building.

It comes after the airport last month said it was expanding its security area from six to eight search lanes to improve wait times at security.

However, in order to facilitate the expansion work, the airport has temporarily reduced the number of lanes to five.

A line of passengers queue outside the main terminal building at Belfast International Airport on Monday.

Some passengers caught up in the delays took to Twitter to vent their frustration.

Paul Fitzpatrick tweeted: “Was here in plenty of time but not even in the airport yet. How will I make my 8.15 flight?”

Mr Fitzpatrick ended up missing his plane to Edinburgh after queuing in security for over an hour, and had to transfer to another flight at George Best Belfast City Airport.

He said he would never use Belfast international Airport again, describing the situation as “farcical”.

The airport’s managing director Graham Keddie revealed that around 70 passengers had missed their flights as a result of the security delays.

Speaking on Radio Ulster this morning, Mr Keddie apologised to those affected by the situation, but asked passengers to be patient as the airport implements its improvements.

He added that the airport currently has 40% less queueing space in the search area due to the ongoing constructions work.

“We dropped the number of lanes to five to facilitate our construction work about 10 days ago and phase one of this is due to complete by Thursday night when we go back to six lanes.

"Phase two is due to complete before Easter,” he added.

He acknowledged that the reputational damage to the airport was significant, but added: “We will get it right and by Easter we will be on eight lanes fully manned.

“It is embarrassing and humiliating for us as a team. We know what we have to do to fix it and we will fix it.”

Mr Keddie also said some passengers who missed their flights may be entitled to a refund, adding: “We will be looking at each individual case and if it is an issue for Belfast International Airport then they will be reimbursed.”

Today’s chaotic scenes are not a new occurrence for the airport, which has come in for heavy criticism from disgruntled passengers over several months, with many complaining of long waits to get through security and miss flights on some occasions.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has called on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to carry out an investigation into the situation at the airport.

In response, Mr Keddie stated: “The airport is fit for purpose in terms of our compliance which is CAA monitored constantly.”

In a statement, the airport said it was continuing to advise to advise passengers to arrive two hours prior to departure.