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Ryanair boss: Send in the army to fix travel chaos

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Travellers wait in a long queue to pass through the security check at Heathrow on June 1, 2022 in London, England - Carl Court/Getty
Travellers wait in a long queue to pass through the security check at Heathrow on June 1, 2022 in London, England - Carl Court/Getty

Ryanair has called for the army to be brought in to resolve travel chaos at airports that is likely to continue throughout the summer holidays.

Michael O’Leary, the airline’s chief executive, said parachuting in military personnel is the best option to mitigate long queues and widespread disruption for tens of thousands of holidaymakers.

He said: “Bringing in the army, which they do and many other European airports, would, at a stroke, relieve the pressure on airport security and would mean that people have a much better experience - not just this weekend, but for each weekend over the next three, four months.”

Mr O’Leary’s remarks follow allegations by Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, that airlines sold seats for flights that they were not going to be able to operate.

The Transport Secretary last night rejected pleas by airlines to allow them to recruit more foreign workers to help tackle travel chaos. On an emergency call with aviation bosses, Mr Shapps knocked back demands for aviation staff to be added to the shortage occupation list, which would make it easier to recruit staff from abroad.

He said that it was unlikely the Home Office would be prepared to make an exception for the aviation industry when other sectors were making similar appeals to their respective departments.

“No airline is going to deliberately sell a flight that they can't crew or operate,” Mr O’Leary told ITV News. He added that airlines typically “sell flights five, six months in advance” and only know whether carriers and airports will have enough crew at very short notice.

Mr O’Leary continued: “Army personnel, defence personnel who are good at providing security could relieve the pressure. And that would be something useful that this government could do instead of blaming the airports or the airlines, which doesn't solve anything.

“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 I believe that the best way of solving these pinch points are these security queues is to deploy military personnel who are security trained and who could relieve the pressure on airport security and if you relieve the pressure in airport security, you get rid of the queues.”

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