Tallinn Airport is asking passengers to arrive earlier for their flights than previously. This is to allow more time to pass through security, the longer than usual queues at which are due to staff shortages.
Riivo Tuvike, the chairman of the management board of Tallinn Airport, says the availability of a record 50 destinations and the easing of coronavirus restrictions has encouraged people to start travelling again. “The fact that passenger numbers are growing shows that people are feeling more assured about the future and are willing to travel again,” he said. The volume of passengers who passed through Tallinn Airport in March was only 25% below the pre-pandemic level, with the number of travellers quickly expected to return to normal in April and during the summer months.
European aviation as a whole faces a challenge, since the recruitment of new workers is lagging behind the growth in passenger numbers. “Despite the excitement and diversity that working at an airport offers, airports and their partners just aren’t finding the new staff they require as quickly as they need to,” Tuvike explained. “There’s a lack of people to service both clients and aircraft, the latter of which is a particularly interesting and highly responsible job. It gives you the chance to work with a wide range of machinery and get up close and personal with planes on a day-to-day basis, putting you right at the very heart of airport operations.”
The rise in the number of people travelling is also placing a great deal of pressure on partners tasked with providing airports with various services. “One which is becoming a real bottleneck in every sense is getting through security, where compromises simply can’t be made but there just aren’t enough workers to open up more lanes,” Tuvike said. “The staff shortages are resulting in longer queues, which is a real test of passengers’ patience.”
Tuvike says that in order to avoid problems, travellers are recommended to arrive for their flights at least two hours before the scheduled departure. “Early mornings are a critical time, when passengers tend to turn up at the last minute, as are the late afternoon and early evening, when a large number of flights take off in a short space of time,” he explained.
March saw a total of 172,424 passengers pass through Tallinn Airport, representing 75% of the pre-pandemic level. However, the first two weeks of April indicate that the number of travellers is continuing to grow. “The last week of the month is school holidays, which is always a busy time for the airport,” said Tuvike. “We’re recommending that everyone – but especially families with kids – arrive in plenty of time for their flights so that they can get through security and do everything they need to before boarding without any issues.”