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Madrid airport suffers long queues, prompting hiring spree to deal with tourist surge

Spain last week dropped its Covid travel restrictions for EU and Schengen Area travellers

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File Photo: Passengers at Madrid's Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport in 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

File Photo: Passengers at Madrid's Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport in 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

File Photo: Passengers at Madrid's Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport in 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Long lines at Madrid Barajas Airport should ease as police work on hiring more staff to deal with the surge in tourism following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the Spanish government said.

With a reinforcement of 500 new hires, more than 1,700 officials will work at Spain's busiest airports, including in Madrid and Barcelona, to control the flow of foreign tourists that has increased markedly in the past weeks.

The long lines in Madrid are similar to problems at airports in Amsterdam, Britain, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe due to staff shortages and increased travel as the pandemic eases. 

In the UK, passenger woes are being compounded by scores of daily cancellations from British Airways and easyJet, with industrial action in France and Italy also causing disruption.

To further ease pressure on arrivals, a separate queue will be set up at Madrid for British tourists, the biggest group of foreign visitors to Spain, so they can use electronic passport gates, a police source told Reuters.

British travellers will still need to get their passports stamped after using the electronic gates, the source added.

Spain last week dropped its Covid travel restrictions for EU and Schengen Area travellers, meaning anyone arriving from those areas is no longer required to present a Digital Covid Cert or fill out Spain’s Health Control Form.

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However, people entering Spain from outside the EU or Schengen Area, including from Great Britain and Northern Ireland, must still present a valid Covid Cert or complete the form.

6.1 million tourists visited Spain in April, according to its National Statistics Institute – around ten times the figure of 629,000 that visited in April a year ago. 

According to the Interior Ministry, around 18.7 million travellers will transit Madrid's Airport in June this year.

The airline Iberia has complained about delays and chaos at Madrid's Barajas Airport passport control and said around 15,000 of its passengers had missed their flights since March 1.

The Spanish Interior Ministry denied anyone had missed a flight at the airport, however.

"In recent months the National Police has not registered a single complaint for missed flights," the ministry said in a statement.

"There are no queues or delays that go beyond punctual situations generated by the coincidence of several flights from outside the Schengen area.”

- Additional reporting by Belen Carreno, Catarina Demony, Pól Ó Conghaile 


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