Passengers have been warned that their luggage could get stuck as Swissport struggles to deal with the volume passing through Edinburgh Airport.
The company loads bags and cleans planes for 19 airlines flying from the center – including Jet2, Ryanair, KLM, TUI and Virgin Atlantic.
Bosses are scrambling to hire up to £35 an hour more staff to ease the backlog, but insiders say it could take at least eight weeks to resume normal service.
A source said: “Try to travel with hand luggage instead of checked baggage if possible.
“Our teams are working to our bones because so many have been laid off during the pandemic.
“It’s an absolute mess and we can’t keep up.
“Passengers are going crazy because they are going on vacation and their issues are not there or they are coming back and nothing appears on the carousel.
“It may be months before things calm down.”
Swissport handles loading, unloading, refueling and defrosting cases for nearly 20 airlines at Edinburgh Airport.
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It also provides ramps to allow for disembarkation of passengers and operates two passenger and customer service lounges.
Unwanted baggage, including those arriving, departing and destined for transfer, have accumulated in and around the airport due to staffing issues with handling agents.
The mountain of cases includes those that occurred on flights hours and even days before.
Clients claim they have been left waiting in the roundabouts for more than two hours, with some giving up and leaving before their case arrived.
Hundreds of unclaimed bags are stored in Swissport’s warehouse.
Company employees are scrambling to fill in the loopholes left by laid-offs during the pandemic.
Workers are being offered £9.87 an hour overtime versus £25 an hour to encourage them to work more hours.
More staff have been enlisted, but delays in permits and security clearances mean they cannot move around the stations on their own.
Our source added, “They are hiring with instant starts, but that’s not enough.
We have lost a lot of skilled workers.
New employees have to wait months for security clearances and cannot move unaccompanied.
He told us how thousands of golf bags logged by American tourists flocked to play and watch The Open at St Andrews deserted at the airport this week.
Tell the passengers how they were left without their luggage for about two weeks after they got on the plane.
Luke and Nikki McDonnell, both 33, from Cumbernauld, traveled from their home in Amman to visit family.
Their bags did not arrive and they had to rummage through a mountain of bags at Swissport’s warehouse in nearby Ingleston but were left empty-handed.
Swissport, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, served 97 million passengers on 287 hubs around the world last year.
A leaked memo revealed that as many as 4,556 of its 8,500 British employees were laid off in June 2020.
Bosses say they have brought in an additional 2,800 workers across the country to fill the shortage.
Edinburgh Airport says it has been inundated with complaints, with about 90 per cent of them relating to the baggage process being controlled by agents and airlines.
Bosses suspended the helpline after employees were verbally abused – revealing 90 percent of inquiries about lost bags.
Edinburgh Airport urged passengers to arrive in time and observe security rules on liquids and tools to avoid overcrowding.
A spokesperson said: “It is a challenging time for the entire airline industry, and many partners have faced recruitment challenges, including handling agents, and we are working to support them through this.”
A Swissport spokesperson said: “We apologize to passengers who have experienced delays in returning their baggage at Edinburgh Airport.
“One of the main reasons for these delays is the sudden rise in ‘short-carry’ baggage – when bags are not loaded on the correct departure flight, arriving late in Edinburgh – which has a huge disruptive effect.
“Our team has no control over this happening, but we have tripled the team working to reunite passengers with these bags as soon as possible.”
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