Holidaymakers have endured travel chaos this half-term after hundreds of flights already cancelled at short notice, while huge security queues and lost luggage have been widespread.
More than 150 flights have been cancelled by British Airways and EasyJet today as airport chaos continues.
British Airways has cancelled at least 124 short-haul flights at Heathrow. The airline says passengers were given advance notice.
EasyJet has also cancelled at least 31 flights at Gatwick, including to destinations such as Bologna, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; Prague, Czech Republic; Krakow, Poland; and Edinburgh.
Holidaymakers have endured travel chaos this half-term after hundreds of flights were already cancelled at short notice, while huge security queues and lost luggage have been widespread.
One mother has revealed how armed police were called upon to marshal passengers off a cancelled TUI flight at Manchester airport as holidaymakers grew frustrated with hours of delays.
EasyJet announced on Friday it would be cancelling 240 flights until 6 June, before further flights were grounded on Monday.
Tui Airways cancelled nearly 200 flights due to serve Manchester Airport until the end of June, including to destinations such as Spain’s Canary Islands.
Simon Stones, 28, a doctor from Bolton, tweeted “carnage once again this morning” alongside a photo of a long queue after arriving at Manchester Airport at 4am.
Mr Stones, who was flying with easyJet to Copenhangen, told i: “Baggage drop off was horrendous, and took nearly two hours.
“Then security for another 45 minutes. Arrived at the gate with little time spare. Boarded, and then held on the tarmac for another 50 mins after the scheduled flight departure because of ground crew shortages.
“Staff were generally helpful and everyone was patient – it’s just hard to believe we’re still seeing these scenes at the airport so long after travel has resumed.
“There are some serious failings among senior management. Everything just seems disorganised and ill-prepared.”
Staff shortages have been blamed for the issues, after thousands of aviation workers were made redundant during the pandemic, as airlines face further recruitment challenges.
Airlines and airports repeatedly called for more financial support during the Covid crisis as Government travel restrictions suppressed demand.
They are now struggling to recruit new workers and have their security checks processed.
Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh accused the Government of being “missing in action” yesterday.
“Tory ministers can’t even get the basics right,” she said.
“They should show some responsibility, do their job, and take concrete steps to tackle the chaos growing on their watch.”
Last month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps introduced legislation to allow new aviation recruits to begin training before passing security checks to reduce the time it takes for them to start work.
Key industry figures, including Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye, are urging ministers to tweak rules to allow the validation of prospective recruits through tax records, rather than requiring aviation firms to call all previous employers to conduct security checks.
The industry is now working with the Department for Transport (DfT) so that either employers or employees to gain access to records held by HMRC, which is thought to have concerns about the implications for data protection.
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.”
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