ravellers have been warned to expect worsening disruption at UK airports over the Jubilee weekend as airlines struggle to cope with huge half-term holiday demand.
Airlines cancelled dozens of flights on Tuesday sparking huge delays and lengthy queues. Travellers complained of “long and snaking” queues, with some passengers waiting more than three hours to get through security at Gatwick Airport.
Some people were pictured lying on the floor at Stansted following the disruption. EasyJet announced it was cancelling at least 200 flights over the half-term holidays as it axed a further 42 flights to and from Gatwick on Tuesday.
BA, which has also axed flights, says the cancellations were made weeks ago and customers were given plenty of notice.
Tui told passengers on social media it is “doing everything to minimise disruption to our flying schedule”, adding that “the majority of our flights are operating with minimal disruption”. The operator said it will be cancelling at least six flights per day until June.
Meanwhile, Eurostar travellers have been forced to wait outside St Pancras station amid delays on the international line.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, has warned travellers face even more disruption in the coming days.
“Sadly, I think it will get worse because were reaching its peak in a few days,” Mr Charles told MailOnline.
“Monday 6 June is scheduled to be the busiest day since 2019, with 2,864 departures from the UK, and the same number of inbound flights – it will be the busiest day since before the pandemic.”
Airlines insist they only had ‘weeks’ to prepare for summer getaways
The body representing airlines has said they only had “weeks” to prepare for travellers seeking summer getaways amid choatic scenes at many UK airports.
Airlines UK said: “We are still emerging from the worst crisis in the history of aviation.
“Airlines were grounded for almost two years as a result of one of the most restrictive travel regimes in the world and with this in mind, the sector has had only a matter of weeks to recover and prepare for one of the busiest summers we’ve seen in many years.
“Despite this, and without the ability to know when restrictions would be completely removed or predict how much flying would be possible over the summer, the vast majority of the many tens of thousands of UK-departing flights a week will be operating as scheduled.
“The focus now should be on our customers with airports, airlines and Government working together in the best interests of Britons to ensure they get away over the summer.”
Long queues for baggage reported amid widespread travel disruption
Passengers have reported long waits for their bags or even that they have gone missing amid widespread travel chaos.
Travel will chaos ‘will get worse’ with Monday ‘busiest day since pre-pandemic’
Travellers are being warned to brace themselves for yet more chaos, with Monday expected to be the busiest day.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, told MailOnline: “Sadly, I think it will get worse because were reaching its peak in a few days.
“Monday 6 June scheduled to be the busiest day since 2019, with 2,864 departures from the UK, and the same number of inbound flights – it will be the busiest day since before the pandemic.”
He added that he did not think the issue was for the Government to solve.
“It’s for travel firms themselves to get themselves in order,” he said.
“It might mean sadly diverting money due to go into investment, or earmarked for new aircraft or into better check-in facilities to instead go towards hiring more staff. They’ve got some tough decisions to make.”
Heathrow passengers: ‘We’ve never seen queues so long’
Passengers at Heathrow said Tuesday they had never seen queues so long for security.
Queues for the security desks at Terminal Three repeatedly looped back along themselves, with one woman joking to a friend: “Shall I time it? Dare we?”
A US couple, who regularly fly over to visit their children, had stood for half an hour in one of the queues and expected to wait at least another hour.
“We’ve never had this experience before,” the woman, who declined to give her name, told the PA news agency.
Asked if Heathrow’s management was handling the situation well, she answered: “No, but that’s typical here in the UK.”
In a bid to limit queues, most passengers were forced to cross to the far end of the terminal and funnelled up a single escalator.
Tiu Airways announces fresh cancellations
Tui Airways will cancel six flights per day at Manchester Airport until the end of June in the latest cancellations announced by an operator.
The airline said in a statement that it apologised to customers for flight disruption in recent days, adding that the May half-term holidays were always an exceptionally busy period.
“Unfortunately, due to ongoing challenges in our operation, we have had to announce a small number of planned cancellations between now and 30 June from Manchester Airport only,” it said.
“We are directly contacting all impacted customers in departure date order and they will automatically receive a full refund.
“We can reassure our customers that the remainder of our flying programme is expected to operate as planned. We’d like to apologise again for the inconvenience caused and we thank customers for their understanding and patience during this time.”
Up to operators to plan for numbers of people flying, says Transport minister
Transport minister, Andrew Stephenson, has insisted the Government is working with airports to minimise disruption, but said it is up to operators to ensure they have enough staff.
“We are working with aviation sector in order to ensure that the queues we have seen at the airports are minimised and that disruption is minimised,” he told Sky News.
“It is for the airports to plan and recruit enough people in order to deal with the significant increases in people flying which we have been expecting for some time.
“We have used are Brexit freedoms in order to ensure that things like security clearances can be done quicker and some of the training can actually begin before full security clearance is granted.
“I hope that the disruption that we are seeing is short term.
“We want to get people back flying again.”
Eurostar says queues are due to a ‘small backlog’ of customers
Eurostar has said there is a “small backlog” of customers waiting at St Pancras following a technical fault.
A spokesperson said: “There was a technical fault with one of our sets earlier, which put it out of service. As such, unfortunately, that particular service left London over an hour late.
“There has since been a small backlog of trains since then delayed by around 30 minutes but otherwise we would expect this to clear shortly.”
Unite general secretary says aviation companies ‘should hang their heads in shame’
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said those in charge of UK aviation companies “should hang their heads in shame”.
He went on: “They got very rich on high profits and low pay. They then sacked and slashed wages for thousands of workers without a second thought during the pandemic. Now they are reaping what they have sown because, understandably, people don’t want to work for them anymore.”
Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of the Prospect union, said there are “staff shortages across the industry” and a “huge reliance on overtime to get by day to day”.
He went on: “In many areas, like air traffic control, overtime is only a temporary sticking plaster.
“So, things could get worse this summer before they get better.”
Government says aviation industry needs to ramp up recruitment
A Government spokeswoman said airports are “busier than usual” due to “an exceptionally high number of people travelling” this week.
She continued: “The aviation industry is responsible for making sure they have enough staff to meet demand and we have been clear that they must step up recruitment to make sure disruption is kept to a minimum.
“In addition, using our post-Brexit freedoms, we have changed the law to provide the sector with more flexibility when training new employees, which will help it to fill vacancies more quickly.
“We have also worked with Border Force to ensure preparations meet passenger demand.”
Eurostar delays: Queues stretch out of St Pancras as holidaymakers face travel meltdown
- 1 READ MORE
- 2 Live updates
- 3 Airlines insist they only had ‘weeks’ to prepare for summer getaways
- 4 Long queues for baggage reported amid widespread travel disruption
- 5 Travel will chaos ‘will get worse’ with Monday ‘busiest day since pre-pandemic’
- 6 Heathrow passengers: ‘We’ve never seen queues so long’
- 7 Tiu Airways announces fresh cancellations
- 8 Up to operators to plan for numbers of people flying, says Transport minister
- 9 Eurostar says queues are due to a ‘small backlog’ of customers
- 10 Unite general secretary says aviation companies ‘should hang their heads in shame’
- 11 Government says aviation industry needs to ramp up recruitment
- 12 Eurostar delays: Queues stretch out of St Pancras as holidaymakers face travel meltdown