Scotland’s airports have distanced themselves from the chaos at English airports in recent weeks which saw thousands of people queuing for hours before some missed their flights.

But could Scots passengers be facing delays when the summer holiday season kicks in later this month?

Why are flights being disrupted?

The Covid pandemic led to thousands of workers being laid off when international travel was halted.

Airports and airlines are suffering staff shortages as they struggle to recruit replacements.

For example, in June 2020 Swissport halved its 8,500-strong UK workforce of baggage handlers and security personnel. The company has since rehired thousands of people but 1,200 of them still don’t have security clearance.

Since Covid restrictions were fully lifted in March, demand has bounced back quicker than predicted.

A queue of passengers at Glasgow Airport

Scotland’s airports were warning as late as January this year that it could be 2026 before passenger numbers recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

But terminals are already seeing huge footfall and holiday giant Tui said it expected summer bookings to “almost reach” 2019 levels.

Senior figures here in Scotland have told me they usually kick off the summer recruitment campaign in November but due to coronavirus travel rules chopping and changing, the process was delayed and prolonged.

Another factor, according to Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, could be fewer European workers to fill gaps as a result of Brexit changes.

What are airports doing to tackle the problem?

Glasgow Airport told me it has been a “significant challenge” responding to the boom in air travel as it clambers to bring in workers.

Before coronavirus, the UK airline industry employed about 140,000 people – but since then thousands of jobs have been cut, including about 2,000 at Glasgow Airport alone.

An indication of the desperation to recruit is that some jobs within Scotland’s airports come with a £500 joining bonus.

Edinburgh Airport has been holding a series of recruitment fairs to entice workers but the industry is competing with big bucks in other sectors which are seen as more attractive.

Will my flight be cancelled?

Mike Dodgson and his family were at the gate when their flight was cancelled

Cancellations are very seldom planned very much in advance.

It is a live system, which adds to the fury from passengers on the receiving end of bad news as they stand inside the airport terminal.

Airlines say “the vast majority” of flights are operating as scheduled but Tui, Wizzair, EasyJet and British Airways are among those who have been forced to cancel some services.

They blame “operational difficulties” which have seen some left high and dry as they are about to board.

Sources explained the reasons could include the knock-on impact of wider delays in the system – for example, a plane not being in the correct place or staff working longer the day before.

Another illustration could include flight attendants arriving for their shift but as the duration of a delay grows, the longer the day becomes for the crew and, in turn, it becomes unsafe to reasonably fly the aircraft to its destination and back.

Mike Dodgson and his family faced a chaotic scene at Glasgow Airport recently when their Tui flight to Turkey was cancelled as they arrived at the gate with their passports in hand.

The dad-of-two described his anger when airport staff were forced to break the news.

He told BBC Scotland: “There was a Tui plane docked next to us but half an hour later, staff came over the tannoy to say that the flight was cancelled.

“There was a big reaction because everyone had been waiting all day. We asked when the next flight was but they told us the entire holiday was cancelled.

“They initially said it was staffing issues. There were no staff to conduct the flight.

“After a lot of shock and talks with the poor airport staff who had to take the brunt of everyone’s questions, we were told to go to baggage claim and then told ‘on your way’.”

Tui has apologised to Mike and issued a full refund.

When should I get to the airport?

Large queues formed at Glasgow Airport on Tuesday morning

Scotland’s airports have been clear that people should not arrive early after large queues formed in recent weeks.

Bosses told me some panicked passengers were arriving five hours before their flight was due to take off, which meant the staff rotated on for the peak period were out of kilter.

As a general rule you should be at the airport two hours before your flight for a domestic UK flight, three hours before for European flights and four hours for long-haul flights.

Will airports be busier when the school holidays start?

It would be a shock if they weren’t.

It is less than two weeks before Scotland’s schools begin to break up for summer.

One advantage of the summer break is that the travel peak is not limited to a single week, as happens at half-term, so delays may not be as bad.

The airports are pleading with people to not arrive earlier in a bid to avoid unnecessary crowds.

Europe’s largest airline association, Airlines for Europe, expects the problems in the UK and Europe to persist “for a good chunk of the summer season”, reported the Financial Times.

Edinburgh Airport say they will have a full complement of accredited staff ready to go by the end of this month as the summer stampede ramps up.

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