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Pilot slams ground service as travel chaos hits Jersey Airport

Pilot slams ground service as travel chaos hits Jersey Airport

Monday 05 June 2023

Pilot slams ground service as travel chaos hits Jersey Airport

Monday 05 June 2023

An EasyJet pilot slammed the "spectacularly poor service" at Jersey Airport this weekend, describing it as the "the worst turnaround [he's] ever experienced" in more than 15 years of flying.

Both arriving and departing passengers faced chaos at the airport as ground handling agents were unable to cope with the volume of flights.

At the start of the island's summer tourist season, and with islanders beginning to return home after half-term breaks, Saturday afternoon saw the peak of the problems and prompted an 'all hands' approach to dealing with the issue.

Passengers reported waits of up to an hour to disembark from arriving flights, with a number of wheelchair users having some of the longest waits, while other passengers waited two hours to retrieve their luggage.

"Spectacularly poor" service

Pilots and crew from some flights were loading luggage onto planes in a bid to keep schedules on track, while lounge staff, firefighters, engineers and other Port of Jersey staff were also involved in seeking to solve the issue.

The pilot of an EasyJet service to Glasgow – which had arrived in Jersey on time but was delayed over two hours due to slow turnaround – told passengers about "spectacularly poor service by the ground staff".

Speaking over the flight's intercom, the pilot described the situation as "completely unacceptable".

He said: “[Swissport] is a third party organisation that we pay good money to organise things at Jersey Airport and they’ve let us down.

“In 15 years of flying this is worst turnaround I’ve ever experienced."

"No ground staff to be seen"

One islander who had arrived on the inbound flight from Glasgow told Express that when they arrived there were "no ground staff to be seen".

"We were waiting 35 minutes to get the ramps to the plane, and they only brought the front one," he said, adding that many passengers were left waiting in the baggage hall for a significant amount of time. 


Pictured: There were delays across the board at Jersey Airport on Saturday, as ground staff struggled to cope with the volume of passengers.

"Not a good look for Jersey to tourists," he said.

Many passengers took to social media to express their frustration.

One commented: "We were caught in it all we waited both on the plane and then a crazy amount of time in baggage arrivals – no-one had a clue what they were doing there were a number of staff wandering around unable to answer questions or really assist.

"It’s a total shambles and they really need to get their act together ahead of summer holidays! I’ve had it on three occasions now outside any holiday period too so it’s not fair for them to blame half term! They are clearly poorly-managed and understaffed!"

"We wish to apologise"

Ground-handling company Swissport, which has struggled to recruit sufficient staff to meet its commitments, has apologised for the problems and said that an urgent review was underway.

A spokesperson for Swissport said: "We wish to apologise for the inconvenience caused to customers and partner agencies who were impacted by disruption at Jersey Airport on Saturday.

"We are in the process of urgently reviewing all of the contributing factors and will continue to work closely with the Ports of Jersey and our airline customers in order to address these issues and put contingency measures in place – we are grateful for the significant support and additional resource they have provided during this time.”

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Posted by Michael Blampied on
I worked a few summers as a baggage handler at the airport in the early seventies for British Midland. In the height of the summer we were handling up to sixty flights each Saturday and Sunday - that’s incoming and outgoing. In addition the British Airways and Servisair ground crews were also operating at high levels.. It was an extremely busy place - far more so than now but very well run. As I recall, the pay was also good and there was always keen competition amongst the handlers to be kept on for the winter as a full timer. I looked at the Swissport rates of pay recently, purely out of curiosity, and was surprised at how poor they were in comparison, albeit obviously on a relative basis. I can fully understand why they are understaffed.

The States really need to get a grip here. This is the airport for goodness sake - one of two main gateways to the Island and the first impression many people will get of our Island. I suggest terminating the Swissport contract and setting up a government owned ground handling operation paying decent wages to attract people to the job. They would probably re-engage most of the existing Swissport staff.

Yes it will cost more but this is a vitally important operation. Some of the wasted millions on the hospital project could certainly have been better used at the Airport. The knock on effect of the embarrassing farce that is currently being acted out at the airport on an ongoing basis has the potential to really damage the island, particularly if the big players like EasyJet and BA start asking the question “is it worth it?”

I was caught up in the well publicised delays at the airport some 4-5 weeks ago and voiced my dissatisfaction to various parties at the time. Unfortunately the platitudes and apologies I’m hearing in relation to these latest incidents are nothing more than deja vu.
Posted by Tobias Philpott on
This is not a new problem. This has been going on since BA decided to change its arrangements. The previous system was working well and as usual in a bid to save money, new providers contracted. Please can the Airport Authority justify the increased tax we pay as passengers. The service is abysmal and everyone is saying so
Posted by IanSmith97 on
It’s appalling on a mid winter mid week day, never mind a Saturday in the summer.
Posted by Peter Townend on
Perhaps Ports of Jersey would like to explain why they got rid of all the other handling companies and employed only Swissport - who I would confirm caused chaos on Saturday - the BA flight had plane crew and ground crew helping to load luggage! They are incompetent management - the company needs firing and the old teams returning!
Posted by IanSmith97 on
Privatisation, always works well NOT
Posted by Keith Marsh on
Time for our "government" to TELL Ports of Jersey to get their act together.
It is hard enough to get visitors to come to this most expensive holiday location, without such dreadful service, as soon as they arrive.
A good look at the Contract given to Swissport is urgently needed, time for a change.
Posted by john garner on
Passengers dont want apologies ...they just want their luggage loaded and unloaded in a timely manner
Posted by JohnTalbot90 on
If Swiss port payed some decent wages they could attract people from other industries an wouldn't be under staffed but they pay peanuts
Posted by Carol Bertram on
When airlines sub-contract ground handling services in their effort to control costs they probably negotiate agents like Swissport down to a level at which they can neither afford to employ sufficient staff nor pay an attractive enough wage to retain them and make a profit hence the current situation. We would all love to see the return of excellent service at Jersey airport (like in the old days) so heres hoping POJ will be politely asking the airlines to unclench their fists and delve their mitts a little deeper into those very large pockets.
Posted by Tobias Philpott on
Reading about this in other media sources, one is left incredulous at the sheer, brazen lack of care demonstrated by not just Swissport but also POJ. This has been going on for months. Swissport have been unable to ensure a consistent, reasonable service since BA switched to them last year and the POJ have just sat and played spectators. One could say that our Ministers should intervene but they're hardly any more competent or effective. Then we are asked why we don't vote. This fiasco is one of a long line of failures over the past few years and evidence of the rapidly deteriorating state of Jersey
Posted by Carol Bertram on
I agree entirely with Michaels earlier comments. I too worked a couple of Summer seasons at Jersey Airport in the late seventies as a ground hostess. It was very busy work but the pay was excellent and the camaraderie was so great many a laugh was had by all. More recently BA employed the most amazing ground staff who knew what they were doing and could handle the pressure with a smile when the fog descended. Sadly both employers and contractors now negotiate employees terms and conditions downwards until the pips squeak and boy does it show. They cannot expect a seafood platter for the price of a pot noodle!
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