The UK government has begun to accelerate national security vetting checks for prospective aviation staff to help meet the surge in demand for flights.
The government has introduced a range of measures to help process security checks as quickly as possible, resulting in about 97% of accreditation checks being completed in around five days on average, with counter-terrorist checks (CTC) in the aviation sector being processed in under 10 days on average. This is a reduction from the 20-day average turnaround for CTC checks in March 2022, before the priority measures for aviation sector applications were introduced.
To speed up the onboarding process, the government has also provided flexibility for employers to begin training new staff on certain modules while their background checks are ongoing, and is permitting HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) employment history letters to be used as suitable forms of reference check. To support this, the government will also lean on the Aviation Skills Retention Platform to help develop and hold on to UK workers.
This initiative forms part of the government’s 22-point plan, which is designed to reduce flight disruptions for passengers. This includes measures to help the industry recruit and train staff and ensure the delivery of realistic summer schedules. Ministers have rejected calls to issue temporary visas for aviation workers, reasoning that staff shortages are not exclusive to the UK but are happening across Europe and the US too.
Grant Shapps, the UK government’s Transport Secretary, said, “These statistics demonstrate how the government is doing its bit to help deliver for passengers; now the industry must fulfill its responsibilities. People have made huge sacrifices during the pandemic and deserve their flights to run on time, without complications, and without being canceled last minute. While this is a challenging time for the sector, it is not acceptable for the current disruption to continue as we head into the summer peak. The public deserves to know now whether or not their flights will run over the summer, and so I reiterate my call for the industry to commit to deliver the flights they have scheduled or to cancel them well in advance so people can make other arrangements. Building on our 22-point plan to help the industry minimize disruption, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure this summer is a great success for the British public.”