Portugal enacts contingency plan to tackle airport delays

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portuguese authorities on Monday set in motion a summer contingency plan at the country’s airports, promising unprecedented staffing levels at passport control amid chaotic scenes in Lisbon and other airports across Europe.

The contingency plan incudes an additional 176 police – trained at immigration procedures – assigned to passport control and another 55 Border Service inspectors. Most will be sent to Lisbon airport.

Wider use of electronic passport gates, more support staff to help passengers and improved information services are also promised for the summer.

The government said the plan is a response to the “exponential” increase in arrivals, as travel has boomed after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scores of flights were cancelled last weekend, resulting in long queues and irate passengers at Lisbon airport. Similar scenes have occurred across Europe and at airports in the United States.

The pressure on Lisbon airport eased Monday, though several dozen flights were cancelled, local media reported.

Portuguese authorities have blamed a variety of reasons for the disruption, including an unanticipated surge in travelers, cancellations elsewhere in Europe having a knock-on effect, and a shortage of staff.

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