Thousands of Britons stranded in airports as easyJet cancels another 80 flights | Air industry

British holidaymakers faced even more travel chaos as easyJet canceled another 80 flights on Sunday and roads began to clog with drivers returning from mid-term holidays and Jubilee weekends.

It is estimated that tens of thousands of British travelers are stranded at airports across Europe after nearly 200 flight cancellations over the weekend.

As the four-day Platinum Jubilee weekend came to an end, along with the mid-term holidays for most schools in England and Wales, easyJet said it had canceled around 80 flights “in due to the difficult operating environment”, affecting approximately 12,000 people. people.

A handful of British Airways and Wizz Air flights to Gatwick were also canceled on Sunday and around 3,000 passengers bound for Luton were diverted to other airports after a temporary power outage affected screening systems there air traffic.

Meanwhile, on the roads, many of the 19 million drivers the AA had predicted would take to the wheel over the four-day weekend began to drive home, putting major strains on major roads .

In London, travel problems will continue into the coming week, with 4,000 Tube station workers set to leave 24 hours on Monday after talks to avert a strike failed. Londoners have been told to avoid traveling on the Tube between Monday morning and 8am Tuesday.

Sunday’s easyJet cancellations mainly affected Gatwick Airport. They come after 25 departures and 22 arrivals from the West Sussex hub were canceled on Saturday, affecting at least 7,000 passengers.

“We are truly sorry and fully understand the disruption this will have caused to our customers,” the airline said. “We are working to get them to their destination as soon as possible.” EasyJet said it has extended its customer service hours and helped those affected find hotel accommodation if needed.

Flights from Barcelona, ​​Nice, Madrid, Belfast, Geneva, Corfu, Faro and Glasgow were among those affected.

It caps a disastrous week for UK airports, with a mid-term jaunt marred by long queues, delayed take-offs and hundreds of flight cancellations, including more than 180 from the holiday company You. Staff shortages, IT problems and poor weather across Europe leading to air traffic control restrictions have been blamed.

Airlines and airports are struggling to cope with a surge in demand after all international Covid travel restrictions were lifted in the UK on March 18.

Carriers have laid off more than 30,000 staff in Britain over the past two years when air travel came to a halt during lockdowns. Gatwick has 40% fewer direct employees than before the pandemic, while easyJet has laid off 10% of its employees.

Earlier this week, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary called for military personnel to be brought in to help ease disruption at airports.

Airlines have also asked the government to ease its immigration rules for EU citizens to help them hire staff.

However, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, rejected both suggestions on Sunday. Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday morning show, he ruled out sending the armed forces to help process holidaymakers and said more immigration was not the answer. “In fact, in Europe, they have exactly the same problems. If you look at the problems they are having in Amsterdam this weekend, there are problems all over Europe.

Several hubs around the world have also been hit by staff shortages and delays this week, including Dublin, Paris, Los Angeles, Toronto and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. On Saturday, Dutch flag carrier KLM canceled all flights from elsewhere in Europe to Schiphol to clear a passenger traffic jam. He said he was looking to solve the problems by hiring more staff and paying higher salaries.

Long queues had died down at most UK airports on Sunday, with Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted all saying they had seen no significant problems, but there are fears the problems could reoccur over the summer holiday. summer when demand peaks again.

Shapps said it was up to airports and airlines, not the government, to fix the underlying problems by hiring and training more staff.

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Airlines UK, the industry body, suggested that the state could play a bigger role: “The way to solve this problem is through the task force announced last week by the government, where we can sit with ministers to examine the art of the possible in terms of concrete measures that can make a difference – notably on recruitment – ​​as the summer period dawns.

“We need to get more people into and stay in the industry. This has already been done – the trucking industry has experienced similar issues recently – and we will spare no effort to get the industry back to normal as soon as possible.

Shapps also said it was imperative that airlines do not oversell flights, which had resulted in some passengers canceling their entire holidays, and suggested travelers get automatic refunds for Canceled overseas vacations, such as the train delay reimbursement scheme.

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