Airport chaos – live: Easter holidays disrupted as BA and easyJet cancel over 100 flights
Another day of disrupted travel plans unfolds as airlines have canceled more than 100 of their scheduled services at UK airports.
British Airways and easyJet were both forced to cut more flights today, thwarting plans by thousands of travelers to fly out for the Easter holiday.
Holidaymakers who have traded the sky for the sea are also facing disruption.
Ahead of one of the busiest weekends of the year, DFDS Ferries has warned thousands of passengers who have booked with P&O Ferries that there will be no room for them on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
P&O Ferries suspended its Dover-Calais crossings on March 17, after telling nearly 800 crew members that they had been made redundant immediately. P&O told passengers they could be carried on the services of DFDS – which sails from the Port of Kent to Calais and Dunkirk in northern France.
But DFDS tweeted: “DFDS has no availability for P&O customers between 08 April 00.01 and 10 April 23.59.
“Please do not proceed to port without a confirmed booking, contact P&O Ferries for alternative travel arrangements.”
Follow the latest updates below.
The UK has canceled hundreds more flights than other countries
The latest data from Cirium, the aviation analytics firm, shows the UK is far ahead of other European countries in terms of flight cancellations in recent days.
Between March 28 and April 3, 681 flights from the UK were cancelled, an increase of 428% year-on-year, compared to 341 cancellations from France (increase of 204%), 213 in Germany (increase of 69%) and 140 from Spain and the Canary Islands (164% increase).
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “Staff shortages, caused by Covid and the lack of recruitment to meet the recovery in demand, appear to be much worse in the UK than elsewhere in Europe compared to the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.
“UK travel agency executives need to hire and train people as quickly as possible to fill the 200,000 worker gap, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.”
Helene CoffeyApril 6, 2022 4:13 p.m.
P&O Ferries outlines recovery plan – with free travel for disrupted travelers
P&O Ferries, which caused outrage on March 17 by laying off its entire UK crew without notice, hopes to resume services on the key Dover-Calais route next week.
A spokesperson for the ferry company said: “From this weekend, P&O Ferries is preparing to resume service on a number of vital routes.
“P&O has worked closely with regulators to ensure our vessels can navigate safely. P&O is delighted to welcome back vital services.
“We expect two of our vessels to be ready to sail the Dover-Calais route by next week, subject to regulatory approval, namely Pride of Kent and Spirit of Britain between Dover-Calais.”
They added that anyone whose travel has been interrupted by P&O “will also receive a free trip to use on a future trip with us, which can be taken later in the year”.
Simon CalderApril 6, 2022 3:26 p.m.
Boost for budget travelers as Emirates plans to return to London Stansted
The gradual restoration of pre-pandemic services by Emirates continues, with flights between London Stansted and Dubai returning from August 1.
During the first month, the departure of the Boeing 777 will operate five times a week, but it will be daily from September 1.
The link to Essex Airport was cut in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The outbound flight, coded EK65, stays overnight – departing Stansted at 9.10pm and arriving seven hours later in Dubai at 7.10am local time.
Returning to the UK, EK068 will depart Dubai at 8:50 a.m. and arrive in Stansted at 1:30 p.m. after a seven-hour, 40-minute flight.
By October 2022, the airline will serve the UK with 110 weekly flights, including six daily flights from London Heathrow, three daily flights from Manchester, two daily flights from Birmingham and Gatwick, daily from Glasgow and five weekly flights from Newcastle.
Edinburgh has yet to rejoin the Emirates network.
Richard Jewsbury, Emirates UK Divisional Vice President, said: “The UK is Emirates’ largest international market and bookings have continued to increase as travel restrictions ease.
Emirates also announced that services from Dubai to Bali will resume on May 1.
Stansted fares tend to be lower than Heathrow and Gatwick.
On a test booking from London to Bali on November 1 for a fortnight, Stansted was £5 cheaper than Gatwick and £42 cheaper than Heathrow. The lowest fare was £791 return.
Simon CalderApril 6, 2022 2:59 p.m.
Shortage of staff at airports to ‘abyssal wages’, says travel expert
The staff shortages that have led to chaotic scenes and long queues at UK airports this week are the result of “abysmal salaries”, a travel expert has said.
Rory Boland, travel editor of Which?, compared the hourly rate of jobs advertised in a cheap supermarket with those of a check-in agent.
“Lidl hourly wage is £10.10-£12.25 GGS,” he tweeted. “(Gatwick Ground Services) which runs British Airways/IAG airlines advertises check-in agent jobs which pay £9.93.
“Some airlines say they face unique staffing issues. All that’s unique are the abysmal salaries.
He added: “Airports, airlines and commentators who appear in the media claiming they cannot attract staff should be asked about wages, terms and how much shareholders earn in payouts.”
Helene CoffeyApril 6, 2022 2:20 p.m.
Jet2 staff helped Tui customers during weekend chaos, customer says
A passenger who fell victim to the chaos of arriving at Manchester Airport on Sunday said The Independent that Tui staff were of little help – but two staff from rival airline Jet2 stepped in and helped some Tui customers.
“There were no staff available for Tui [customers’] luggage,” explains the passenger, who arrived at MAN on Sunday morning.
“However, there were two staff members at Jet2 who were very helpful and seemed to pick up on the criticisms and complaints from Tui customers. Kudos to them.
Lucy ThackrayApril 6, 2022 1:29 p.m.
EasyJet tells customers refreshments may not be available on the flight
“We are sorry to inform you that we cannot guarantee that there will be refreshments on board your flight. We wanted to let you know so that you can make alternative arrangements before boarding your flight.
This is the text message journalist Rebecca Hall and those on board her easyJet flight received tonight earlier today.
The message also reminds travelers that they cannot drink their own alcohol on board flights.
The Independent has contacted easyJet to find out if this is a knock-on effect of staff shortages and Covid absences.
Lucy ThackrayApril 6, 2022 1:18 p.m.
EasyJet cancels flights until end of April
Britain’s biggest budget airline is sending out another tranche of cancellation notices for the end of April as resource issues continue.
On April 25, for example, passengers on the evening flight from London Gatwick to Prague receive an email titled: “Important changes to your easyJet flight to Prague”.
The “significant changes” turn out to be the cancellation of the flight. Passengers are moved from the 6:25 p.m. departure to a 9 a.m. service.
If it doesn’t fit, they’re told, “You can change flights for free.” Passengers can move to any other departure on the route, regardless of price.
Travelers are alternatively offered a voucher, which it would be irrational to accept, or a full refund.
No compensation is due because more than 14 days’ notice has been given.
Simon CalderApril 6, 2022 12:42 p.m.
Piles of abandoned suitcases at Manchester Airport after travel chaos
Pictures of suitcases stacked and abandoned at Manchester Airport have emerged after days of long queues and hours of waiting for luggage.
Many travelers have complained that they had to abandon their luggage at the airport after waiting two or three hours for the suitcases to be unloaded from their flight.
Passenger Perry Freeman recounted Manchester Evening News that he had landed in Manchester on Friday but had not collected his luggage until Monday evening – a day before his return journey.
Lucy ThackrayApril 6, 2022 12:19 p.m.
Spain opens up to unvaccinated travelers
The UK’s most popular overseas nation, Spain, has opened up to unvaccinated British visitors with immediate effect.
So far, only people with proof of vaccination or a certificate of recovery from Covid-19 have been accepted.
But the official state bulletin has widened the range of authorized travelers from the UK to include unchecked people who have taken a test before departure.
It appears that cheap and quick lateral flow tests performed within 24 hours of leaving for Spain will be acceptable.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, called it “a step in the right direction”.
Simon CalderApril 6, 2022 11:33 am
Air passenger rights in the event of flight cancellation
Readers contact the travel office of The Independent inquire about their rights when a flight is cancelled.
‘Graham From Bushey’ asks: ‘My son is flying to Europe this Sunday with easyJet. On Monday, he was told his early morning flight had been canceled but was booked on the midday flight. Is he entitled to compensation?
Under EU rules on air passenger rights, which the UK has transposed into UK law since Brexit, travelers whose flights are canceled within two weeks of departure are entitled to cash compensation of 220 £ or £350 (depending on distance) for travel within Europe.
The only excuse airlines can use to avoid payment is if the cancellation is due to “extraordinary circumstances” – which does not include a lack of staff.
Simon CalderApril 6, 2022 11:12 a.m.