Former East Midlands Airport boss leaves top job after weeks of travel chaos

The former boss of East Midlands Airport (EMA) has left her current job after weeks of travel chaos for passengers. However, the move is said to be due to family reasons.

Karen Smart, who was the managing director of Castle Donington’s EMA between 2018 and 2020, had been the MD of Manchester Airport, but following weeks of travel chaos at the airport, it was announced she had left the role last night. That came as the city’s Mayor Andy Burnham had earlier considered bringing in the police and fire services to help cope with the ongoing problems.

In a statement, the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which also runs EMA, said Ms Smart’s departure was for a number of reasons. They did not link it with the current situation.

READ MORE:East Midlands Airport avoid travel delay chaos hitting Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester

“Over the last two years, Karen has guided Manchester Airport through the most challenging period of its 84-year history, having made a major contribution to MAG throughout her time with the business,” said the groups chief executive Charlie Cornish.

“I am sorry to lose Karen after her years of valuable service, but also understand her desire to return to the South for family reasons and indeed to explore new career opportunities.”

Manchester Airport is one of a number airports to have been hit by long delays and chaotic scenes in recent days, with Ms Smart’s airport seeing long queues trailing outside terminals to reach check-ins. There have also been reports of hordes of people waiting to get through security and to pick up luggage.

The extent of the problem even saw piles of suitcases left in terminals after travellers abandoned the wait to reclaim their baggage and instead left for home. Manchester Airport’s problems have been made worse after they struggled to recruit new staff following a series of redundancies made during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, Ms Smart has said Manchester Airport had “fallen short of the standards they expected” in dealing with the travel chaos. She will be replaced by Ian Costigan in the interim who moves from his post as group transformation director to head up the airport’s response.

Despite the circumstances of her departure, Mr Cornish felt Karen Smart had done a lot of good in her role at Manchester Airport. He said: “While there are sure to be further challenges ahead, I am confident we will soon start to see the benefits of the recovery plans Karen has helped put in place.”

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