The UK government has dismissed allegations that it is considering granting emergency visas to foreign aviation personnel. Instead, the Department of Transport is considering other options to address chronic staffing shortages at UK airports and airlines in advance of summer travel.
"This is totally wrong," a Ministry of Transport spokeswoman told Reuters in response to news that aviation had been placed to the shortage occupation list. The statement came after The Telegraph reported on Saturday that Secretary Grant Shapps was mulling a number of emergency steps to address the industry's problems.
Business leaders advocated providing six-month temporary visas to luggage handlers and check-in employees from other countries to relieve congestion during the summer months. This is a similar programme to the one that was launched for truck drivers last year, and it is accessible for musicians, caregivers, and other occupations that require additional personnel.
However, the government has made it clear that it is looking for alternate solutions to just adding more foreign workers to the industry.
A spokesperson said, “The Transport Secretary [has] made clear, we cannot always reach for the lever marked 'more immigration'. We are absolutely focused on seeing an end to the disruption at airports and will continue to work with industry, and listen to their suggestions, as we consider how best to solve the issues."