The UK’s airports have been mired in chaos after staff shortages led to hundreds of canceled flights and hours-long delays over the weekend.
EasyJet axed 222 flights over the weekend due to staff shortages, with around 70 more cancellations expected today.
British Airways has also canceled some 70 flights to and from Heathrow today, following their cancellations over the weekend. Some 20,000 passengers will be affected by today’s disruption.
An easyJet spokesperson has said: “As a result of the current high rates of Covid infections across Europe, like all businesses easyJet is experiencing higher than usual levels of employee sickness.”
Elsewhere, many passengers at Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and Dublin airports have been met with long queues and delays this week as they arrive to jet off for the Easter holidays.
Airport bosses attributed the delays to the sudden growth in passenger volume as they race to hire enough new staff to deal with customer traffic, which is growing as Covid travel restrictions ease in many countries.
Yesterday Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham suggested that police and firefighters could be drafted in to help control the chaos at the city’s airport, which has seen fights break out, customers jostling for space and abandoning their luggage.
Follow all the latest updates below.
Today’s cancellations: Gatwick and Heathrow passengers worst affected
Around 20,000 passengers booked on the UK’s biggest airlines have found their flights for Tuesday have been cancelled.
The Independent has calculated that both British Airways and easyJet have canceled more than 70 flights.
BA’s cancellations involve domestic and European flights to and from its main base, London Heathrow. Destinations with multiple cancellations include Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Milan.
The vast majority of BA’s cancellations were announced around two weeks ago, as the airline culled its schedule in order to cope with limited resources.
By far the worst affected easyJet base is its main hub, Gatwick, which has seen 44 cancellations so far today – including some longer holiday flights to Greek destinations such as Corfu, Kos and Preveza.
Ten Luton flights have been cancelled, with Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool and Belfast International also affected.
simon calder5 April 2022 09:16
Long queues continue at Manchester Airport
A video posted to Twitter shows another long wait for security for passengers flying from Manchester Airport today.
GB News reporter Bradley Harris posted the footage of long queues stretching around the departures zone, saying “Lots of people waiting to enter security with queues stretching as far as T1 drop off outside.”
The airport has been suffering long security queues over the past two weeks, with Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham yesterday suggesting that police and firefighters could be drafted in to help manage the chaos.
Lucy Thackray5 April 2022 09:10
‘Book elsewhere and we’ll reimburse you’ easyJet tells customers
EasyJet is reportedly telling customers that, in a pinch, they should re-book with other airlines and keep the receipt to claim the money back from the airline.
For #EasyJet customers with cancellations, the airline tells us that if it can’t re-route you via easyJet flights within 24 hours you can rebook on other airlines. You must book and it will reimburse you. Not brilliant (and not really the law), but better than nothing,” tweeted the editor of Which? TravelRory Boland.
The Civil Aviation Authority insists that passengers should be able to reach their destination as swiftly as possible – with an airline that cancels a flight obliged to buy tickets on rival carriers.
In addition, easyJet must pay cash compensation of either £220 or £350 per person (depending on whether the journey is less or more than 1,500km) for flights canceled as a result of staff shortages.
Lucy Thackray4 April 2022 17:48
CAA ‘will not hesitate to take further action’ against airlines that fail to follow guidance
With British Airways and easyJet each canceling hundreds of flights over the past few days, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has vowed to take action against airlines that fail to follow its guidance on cancellations.
Air passengers’ rights rules require carriers that cancel flights to rebook travelers on the first available departure, if that is what the person wants, and to advise passengers about their entitlement to compensation.
Anna Bowles, the CAA’s head of consumer enforcement, said: “We understand the impact it can have on customers when flights are delayed or cancelled. That is why there are rules in place to protect customers in these circumstances.
“We also expect airlines to proactively provide passengers with information about their rights when flights are disrupted.
“We have guidance on cancellations and flight disruption published on our website and expect airlines to follow this.
“Where we have evidence that airlines are not following these guidelines, we will not hesitate to take further action where required.”
simon calder4 April 2022 17:01
‘Shambolic’: Delays reported at Birmingham Airport
Passengers have reported slow waits at Birmingham airport today, with issues at check-in for departures as well as on arrival.
“I’m at Birmingham airport. Have to say that the bag drop is an utter shambles. Most machines not working, baggage conveyor not working. Leaving 1 poor person trying to sort everyone. Queue is VERY long. #shambolic” wrote Ryanair passenger Matt McFarlane this afternoon.
Around midday, Allie Mann complained of being stranded on a just-landed aircraft, saying: “Been sat on a plane at Birmingham airport for over three hours due to there being no staff. Absolutely appalling.”
Meanwhile, Twitter user Ian Bradford warned of long waits at baggage claim, saying “I was able to grow a beard whilst waiting for my cases”.
A spokesperson for the airport told Birmingham Live: “Last week 83% of customers flying out of Birmingham Airport were through security in less than 20 minutes, which is what we aim for. Some people, however, have had to wait longer – and we’re sorry for this.
“The cause of the problem is this: having spent the past two years running at about 30% of pre-pandemic volumes, we reduced staff numbers accordingly.
“Now we have a sudden return of people wanting to fly, but we don’t yet have the right numbers of security officers to check everyone through as quickly as we, or they, would like at peak times.”
It advises customers to “increase the chances of speedy journeys by arriving in good time and making sure their baggage is security-compliant.”
Lucy Thackray4 April 2022 16:38
Malta to allow unvaccinated British visitors in a week from now
Malta, which previously has imposed some of the harshest coronavirus travel restrictions, will allow unvaccinated British visitors to travel to the island from 11 April.
They will require a negative PCR test (taken up to 72 hours prior to arrival) or a recognized Covid recovery certificate which cannot be older than 180 days.
The tourism minister, Clayton Bartolo, said: “The decision to ease further Covid-19 restrictions related to travel continues to be a turning point in the government’s efforts to drive the Maltese Islands back to normality.
“We are committed that the coming months will generate excellent results in terms of tourism inflows as well as ascertain our ultimate goal of making Malta a hub of tourism excellence for the years to come.”
simon calder4 April 2022 16:08
New links from the UK to Islamabad – operated by a Jordanian airline?
Travelers from London Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester could soon be given more choice to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
At present Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is banned from UK airspace. The Civil Aviation Authority took action in 2020, adding PIA to the list of prohibited carriers after a fatal crash on a domestic flight in Pakistan.
But according to the airline schedule analyst, Sean Moulton, Jordan Aviation – a private carrier based in Amman – will be enlisted to operate flights.
At present British Airways and Virgin Atlantic compete on routes from the UK to Islamabad.
simon calder4 April 2022 15:37
Airlines must meet their legal obligations when canceling flights, warns Which?
Of the widespread flight cancellations across the UK, Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, has said: “These cancellations will cause enormous frustration for individuals and families who were eagerly awaiting an Easter getaway. This period was always likely to be a popular holiday time and there is a responsibility on airlines to ensure they have the capacity to run all of the flights they schedule.
“Most passengers will just want to get where they need to be, despite this disruption, so airlines must meet their legal obligations and inform passengers of their right to be rerouted with other carriers or claim a refund.
“Affected passengers will be entitled to at least £220 compensation in these circumstances to cover out of pocket costs, and airlines should provide refreshments and accommodation as required while their customers await their new flight.”
Helen Coffey4 April 2022 15:12
Northern Ireland hit by flight cancellations
Northern Ireland is the UK nation most dependent on aviation, and it is seeing its share of cancellations due to staff shortage – particularly on easyJet.
Sunday’s Belfast International to Barcelona easyJet flight was canceled the day before departure. No reason was given.
Later easyJet flights to Luton, Liverpool and Glasgow were grounded, along with the inbound services.
To London Gatwick, Sunday’s Belfast City and Monday’s Belfast International flights were canceled by easyJet.
British Airways canceled one London Heathrow-Belfast City round-trip on Monday.
simon calder4 April 2022 14:08
Eurotunnel blockage: passengers should expect delays, says Le Shuttle
A train has broken down in the Eurotunnel, causing disruption to the line, a BBC South East journalist has reported.
James Dunn wrote on Twitter: “A train has broken down in Eurotunnel, causing major delays.
“It weighs 2,500 tonnes, so is not a quick process – but they’re hoping to have things running as normal again by the middle of the day.”
Meanwhile a tweet from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle says: “Passengers traveling today may experience delays due to an earlier issue. Please allow plenty of time for your journey and check SMS and our onsite screens for updates. Please accept our sincere apologies, we will get you on your way as soon as possible.”
Lucy Thackray4 April 2022 12:49
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.