Transport department denies UK mulling visas for EU workers to ease airport woes

Britain’s Department for Transport on Saturday (Jun 11) denied a report that the government was considering issuing temporary visas to workers from the European Union to ease a staffing crisis at airports.

The Telegraph newspaper reported that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has discussed plans to issue baggage handlers and check-in staff with temporary visas similar to those issued to fruit pickers and musicians.

“This is entirely untrue,” a ministry spokesperson said.

Shapps last week said the government would be working with the aviation industry to avoid a repeat of the chaos at airports as passengers faced lengthy delays and cancellations of hundreds of flights.

Airports across Europe have struggled to cope with a post-pandemic rebound in demand but British airports have been particularly hit by disruptions over the past week.

The sector has struggled to recruit staff after the turmoil of the pandemic and complain it is taking longer to recruit new employees and vet them for security clearance.

Britain quit the EU in January 2020, leading to an exodus in workers from the bloc.