£40m bid to cut airport queues

QUEUEING times at Britain's main airports will be cut to no more than five minutes for most passengers, operator BAA vowed yesterday as it announced £40 million of improvements.

The firm which runs Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports, as well as London's three largest, promised to reduce waiting times by recruiting 1,400 extra security staff and installing 22 new X-ray machines across the company this year.

The move will be especially welcomed by passengers and airlines at Edinburgh airport, where there have been complaints about long queues in the past.

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The airport is opening a second search area within weeks to cope with peak-hour surges in passengers, while a new centralised search area for all passengers is planned at Glasgow airport next year.

BAA said its target was for no passengers to be waiting more than five minutes for 95 per cent of the time. It said that, at present, 90-95 per cent of passengers at its Scottish airports were experiencing queues of up to ten minutes.

The move comes ahead of BAA being referred to the Competition Commission over levels of airport ownership. It also runs London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports and Southampton in Hampshire.

BAA said it would spend 12 million in Scotland, where 148 extra staff will be recruited, on top of 86 added last year. Seven new X-ray machines will be added to the current 16.

At Edinburgh airport, 51 extra staff will supplement the 40 added last year, bringing the total staff to some 230.

BAA said some passengers would be directed to the new search area on the ground floor to ease pressure on the first-floor main search area during peak hours.

The airport has a particular surge of passengers in the morning and evening because of the high proportion of business travellers, especially to London.

Bmi and EasyJet, two airlines which have criticised security queues at the airport in the past, welcomed the announcement.

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A spokesman for Bmi said: "We welcome BAA's investment in additional security staff and lanes across its airports.

"Anything which speeds up the airport process for the passenger is a positive move."

A spokeswoman for EasyJet added: "We are pleased that BAA is looking at ways to speed up security as long as there is no cost to the consumer."

Stephen Baxter, the divisional managing director of BAA Scotland, said: "As a result of this investment by BAA, we will have more security staff in place and more X-ray machines in operation this year than ever before."


OF THE 148 extra security staff, 77 will be at Glasgow airport, 51 at Edinburgh and 20 at Aberdeen.

The number of X-ray machines at Glasgow's international search area will rise by two to six. They will be combined with two separate checkpoints for UK flights to create a single search area next year.

Two extra machines will be added to the six at Edinburgh, with two more in a new search area. An extra machine will supplement the existing two at Aberdeen.