Massive airport queues start at 4.45am in Manchester

Airport chaos could last for MONTHS: Massive queues start at 4.45am in Manchester as carnage hits Heathrow, Gatwick and Eurotunnel leaving Easter getaway passengers waiting HOURS to check in thanks to staff shortages

  • It is the fourth day in a row that Manchester Airport – the UK’s third busiest – has experienced lengthy queues
  • Police and the fire service might even be called in to help, according to Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham
  • Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer yesterday challenged its management to ‘get a grip or get out’
  • Video showed travellers queued outside entrance, with one person writing: ‘This is a birthday treat at 4.45am’
  • It follows reports of travel chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick airports yesterday, as well as long delays at Dover
  • ** Have you experienced airport delays today? Email [email protected] ** 

Massive queues started forming at 4.45am at Manchester Airport today as Easter getaway passengers are left waiting for hours to check in due to staff shortages across UK airlines. 

It is the fourth day in a row that the airport – the UK’s third busiest – has experienced delays. Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer yesterday challenged its management to ‘get a grip or get out’. 

And there were also reports of travel chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Monday, as well as long delays at Dover and a train blockage in the Channel Tunnel. 

The situation has been so chaotic that police officers and the fire service might even be called in to help, according to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who is set to meet the airport’s management today.

Have YOU experienced airport delays today? 

Email [email protected]

He said: ‘I have been in touch with colleagues at Greater Manchester Police at the weekend to see what we can do to support the airport.

‘It’s a difficult moment for airports around the world having laid low for the pandemic, they’ve had to scale up very quickly. We understand the challenges that we’ve got.’

Speaking yesterday, Mr Burnham added: ‘Can we work with our fire service and police service to do a little more to help the airport manage some of the pressures that it has? All of that will be discussed tomorrow.’

Footage posted to social media captured travellers lining up for security outside the airport’s entrance, with one person writing: ‘Well this is a birthday treat at 4.45am at Manchester Airport.’ 

Another Twitter user wrote: ‘Manchester airport queues this morning if anyone’s curious, this was after an hour check in as well, not sure where it ends yet.’

And a third added: ‘Welcome to Manchester and the era of modern travel. Congratulations @manairport what a total and utter mess. Not like you didn’t know’. 

EasyJet said it has cancelled around 60 flights to and from the UK on Tuesday after calling off 62 flights on Monday due to high levels of staff absences. British Airways also grounded a total of 62 flights on Monday.

This follows a week of reported mass disruption with more than 1,100 flights cancelled throughout the UK. 

In the week up to April 3, a total of 1,143 flights were cancelled from and to the UK compared with just 197 flights cancelled the same week in 2019. 

The latest figures show British Airways cancelled 662 flights while easyJet axed 357 last week, according to data from Cirium, which carries out aviation analysis. 

But some of these totals are based on historical cancellations and were flights axed months ago while airlines have claimed they represent a small percentage of their total flights. 

It is the fourth day in a row that the airport – the UK’s third busiest – has experienced delays. Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer yesterday challenged its management to ‘get a grip or get out’. Pictured: A huge queue outside the entrance to Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1 early this morning

EasyJet said it has cancelled around 60 flights to and from the UK on Tuesday after calling off 62 flights yesterday due to high levels of staff absences. British Airways also grounded a total of 62 flights on Monday. Pictured: Manchester Airport today

In the week up to April 3, a total of 1,143 flights were cancelled from and to the UK compared with just 197 flights cancelled the same week in 2019. Pictured: lengthy queues at Manchester Airport today


The latest figures show British Airways cancelled 662 flights while easyJet axed 357 last week, according to data from Cirium, which carries out aviation analysis. But some of these totals are based on historical cancellations and were flights axed months ago. Pictured left and right: Huge queues for security at Manchester Airport this morning

Footage and pictures (above) posted to social media captured travellers lining up for security outside Manchester Airport’s entrance early this morning, with one person writing: ‘Well this is a birthday treat at 4.45am’. Another wrote: ‘Manchester airport queues this morning if anyone’s curious, this was after an hour check in as well, not sure where it ends yet’

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Mr Stringer, the former leader of Manchester Council and chairman of the airport board, said: ‘Covid has made life difficult for everyone in the aviation industry.

‘The way to respond to that is by good employment procedures and not by casualisation, effectively using fire and rehire.

‘The airport needs to reset and pay above the market rate to stabilise the situation and give confidence to employees and the travelling public.’  

On Monday, Manchester Airport chiefs apologised for ‘falling short’ following long delays over the weekend.

Meanwhile, pictures showed long queues at Heathrow, with airport bosses blaming a huge spike in passenger numbers. Heathrow chiefs say passenger numbers have now reached pre-pandemic levels, with Saturday being the first school holidays since the start of the pandemic with no travel restrictions in place in England.

Bosses at Gatwick also said passengers numbers were returning to 2019 levels at the Sussex airport and that while there were some check-in queues that it was generally ‘coping well’ with the increase in footfall.

Alongside high passenger numbers, experts have also warned that travel firms are facing a staffing crisis, with thousands said to have quit the industry in recent months.

One travel expert estimated that there had ‘probably been more resignations in the last three months’ than during the Covid crisis because staff were ‘worn out’. Another warned disruption at airports such as Manchester could last for ‘months’, with firms having to train new staff to deal with the post-Covid increase in demand.

Bosses of the company behind Manchester Airport, which is in the same group as Stansted and East Midlands Airport, said it had seen a 1,300 percent increase increase in passenger numbers in February – compared to the previous year when the country was in lockdown.

Pictures taken at Manchester Airport on Monday showed long queues of people attempting to get through to security. Passengers also bemoaned a lack of organisation at the check-in, with long queues also seen at the check-in desk. In a tongue-in-cheek Twitter post, one frustrated traveller described a snaking queue at the airport as a world record attempt at the ‘world’s slowest, longest conga line’.

Hundreds of passengers were seen queuing at Manchester Airport on Monday – the first day of the Easter holidays


Passengers have also reported chaos when they have attempted to reclaim their baggage at airports in England

Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer challenged the management at Manchester Airport to ‘get a grip or get out’ after airline passengers faced huge queues on Monday

And at Birmingham, passengers said the situation had been ‘hell’ for holidaymakers, with one passenger claiming to have been stuck on a plane for three hours without moving.

To further add to the travel chaos, budget airline easyJet cancelled up to 100 flights due to Covid-enforced staff shortages. The airline has axed at least 222 trips axed since Friday.

BA also cancelled at least 115 flights to or from Heathrow Airport on Monday, although it is believed only five were last-minute cancellations caused by coronavirus-related staff shortages – meaning passengers would have been informed well in advance of the cancellation.

The total includes some flights axed due to last week’s decision by the airline to reduce its schedule until the end of May to boost reliability, as well as routes suspended for several months because of the pandemic, such as those featuring several Asian destinations.

According to MailOnline’s analysis, at least five BA flights to European destinations, including Paris, Marseille and Oslo, were cancelled from Heathrow Terminal 5 on Monday. 

It comes after the west-London airport faced its own chaos last week, after a major BA IT meltdown forced the airline to cancel or delay hundreds of flights. Meanwhile, BA has been accused of raising prices to ‘put off’ customers, with return flights to some European destinations costing as much as £1,000.

Away from airports, drivers hoping to cross the Channel fared little better on Monday, with two-hour waits to get into the Port of Dover. Gridlocked traffic around Dover, poor conditions in the Channel and the suspension of P&O services caused delays of up to nine hours at the Kent port over the weekend.

Eurotunnel services, meanwhile, were also delayed by up to three hours due to a train that came to a halt in the Channel Tunnel. Passenger service Eurostar, which uses the same tunnel, also reported delays on its services, according to its website.

Airport disruption, meanwhile, is being blamed on Covid-enforced staff shortages, with Manchester Airport n Sunday saying it was exploring the possibility of bringing in short-term agency staff to help bring the chaos under control.  

Airline passengers reported huge queues at Manchester Airport – the UK’s third busiest – for the third day in the row

Less than 24 hours after Manchester Airport bosses apologised for ‘falling short’ following long delays over the weekend, airline passengers again faced huge queues on Monday

Monday was the third day in a row that Manchester airport – the UK’s third busiest – had significant delays, following long queues and chaos at departures over the weekend

Pictures showed long lines of people queuing for security on Monday, while passengers bemoaned a lack of organisation at check-in gates

Passengers said they faced ‘absolute chaos’ at Manchester Airport on Monday morning, with long queues at security (pictured)


Passengers posted video on social media of huge long queues at Manchester Airport. A Manchester Airport spokesperson admitted the service was short-staffed and said on Sunday: ‘We apologise to passengers whose experience at Manchester Airport has fallen short of the standards they expected. ‘As we recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, our whole industry is facing staff shortages and recruitment challenges. ‘As a result we are advising customers that security queues may be longer than usual, and we encourage them to arrive at the earliest time recommended by their airline.

There was also reports of disruption at Heathrow Airport, which last week faced its own chaos after a major BA IT meltdown. Pictured: Queues at Heathrow Terminal 2 on Monday morning

There were also said to be delays at Gatwick Airport on Monday morning. Pictured here was a queue for a departures area at the Sussex airport

Meanwhile, drivers reported two-hour long waits for the Port of Dover (pictured: Queues on the M20 at Maidstone). Gridlocked traffic around Dover, poor conditions in the Channel and the suspension of P&O services caused delays of up to nine hours at the Kent port over the weekend

Though all Covid restrictions – as well as testing and self-isolation requirements – have been lifted in England, as many as 4.9 million people are now thought to be infected with the virus, according to the UK’s biggest Covid surveillance scheme.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated more than 4.1 million people had the virus on any given day over the week to March 26, equivalent to one in 13 being infected.

Passengers said they faced ‘absolute chaos’ at Manchester Airport on Monday, with long queues at security. 

One passenger, sharing a picture of the queues, said: ‘5.30am and absolute chaos in Manchester Airport. No organisation whatsoever! Lots missing flights.’  

Another, sharing a video, said: ‘Manchester Airport. This is the current line for security at Terminal 2 this morning. What is happening?’. 

EasyJet cancels more than 220 flights due to Covid staff shortages to leave some passengers stranded amid airport chaos

EasyJet has cancelled more than 220 flights, blaming the disruption on high levels of staff sickness due to Covid.

At least 222 flights have been axed since Friday, including 62 that had been scheduled for Monday alone, the majority of which were cancelled at short notice on Saturday.

Covid infection numbers are some of the highest they have been since the start of the pandemic. 

An EasyJet spokesperson said yesterday: ‘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. 

‘We have taken action to mitigate this through the rostering of additional standby crew this weekend, however, with the current levels of sickness we have also decided to make some cancellations in advance.’

They said the focus was on ‘consolidating flights where we have multiple frequencies so customers have more options to rebook their travel, often on the same day.’

They added: ‘Unfortunately it has been necessary to make some additional cancellations for today and tomorrow. 

‘We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to customers on affected flights.

‘We have made 62 preemptive cancellations for flights to and from the UK for tomorrow which represents a small proportion tomorrow’s total flying programme which was planned to be more than 1645 flights. 

‘We cancelled the majority of these yesterday.’

Linn Glotta-Bogerud, arrived five hours early for her flight to Norway, but has managed to avoid the worst of the queues.

She told MailOnline: ‘I got here early after seeing the news about the queues. Now I’m just waiting around.

‘This is definitely not what I expected. I arrived here at 10am, for a flight that leaves at 3.30pm.

‘They don’t open the gate until three hours before the flight leaves, so now I’m just waiting around, but some of the queues look crazy.

‘There’s a lot of security around but some of them don’t seem to have much to do.’

Another, Howie Atkinson, 42, who is flying with his wife Gair and daughter Isla to Dubai.

He told MailOnline: ‘Over the weekend a friend sent me a news story with a picture of the queues, so I changed it to an earlier one. The queues are massive, so I’m glad we’re here early.’ 

Stephen O’Naill, 37 and Lee Moora, 34, flew to Manchester from Belfast on Saturday to see the Manchester United match.

Stephen said: ‘We’re with easyJet, who recommended we get here early. We’re about seven hours early for our flight.

‘We saw on Facebook that they’ve had 100s of flights canceled.’

It comes after shocking images showed huge disruption at Manchester Airport over the weekend.

On Twitter, one user posted on Sunday: ‘Manchester Airport not ideal as it’s so busy. 

‘Well done as it’s organised and amazing staff are smiling through abuse and announcements etc…

‘Gutted about our fast track passes and not being able to use them.’

A Manchester Airport spokesperson admitted the airport was short-staffed. In a statement on Sunday, a spokesperson said: ‘We apologise to passengers whose experience at Manchester Airport has fallen short of the standards they expected.

‘As we recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, our whole industry is facing staff shortages and recruitment challenges.

‘As a result we are advising customers that security queues may be longer than usual, and we encourage them to arrive at the earliest time recommended by their airline.

‘Due to the security checks and training associated with these roles, it takes time to for people to be able to start work in our operation

‘That is why we are exploring a number of short-term measures to deliver the best possible service we can, such as the use of agency staff and different ways in which existing colleagues can support our operation.

‘We are aware similar challenges are being faced by airlines and third parties, such as baggage handling agents, operating on our site.

‘Together, we are working hard to deliver the best possible service we can in the circumstances, and to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.’

Airport insiders say the main challenge has been the ‘rapid recovery’ of international travel and that airports are ‘struggling to scale our operations back up quickly enough to keep pace with demand’.

‘New staff need to be vetted and trained so there is a bit of a lag time between appointing them and them starting work in our operation,’ one told MailOnline.

Meanwhile, easyJet cancelled around 100 flights on Monday, including 62 from the UK. The budget airline said higher than usual levels of staff absence due to Covid was to blame.

EasyJet – which is one of Europe’s biggest airlines – said the cancellations were a small part of its schedule on Monday, which is around 1,645 flights.  

But it has left passengers facing long delays. One passenger, who was due to fly from Belfast Airport with easyJet on Monday morning, said on Twitter: ‘First trip overseas since COVID. It’s going well… easyJet cancel flight at five hours notice. 

‘Result: A 10 hour delay and 2.00 am arrival in our hotel Now just been charged £14 for a pint and a G&T in the grimiest airport I’ve been in since the year dot. Sigh.’

A spokesperson for easyJet 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.

Meanwhile, BA cancelled at least half a dozen flights from Heathrow Terminal 5. Flights to Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Oslo and Krakow were among those cancelled. Pictured: Queues at Heathrow Terminal 2

One expert warned disruption at airports could last ‘months’, as travel firms desperately attempted to up their staffing levels to deal with an increase in demand for travel. Pictured: Queues at Heathrow Terminal 2

John Strickland, from JLS Consulting, an independent air travel consultancy firm, told BBC Radio 4: ‘Certainly the next month of two is going to be very difficult.’ Pictured: Queues at Heathrow Terminal 2

John Strickland said: ‘We know that Manchester Airport has said that passengers should expect queues of one to two hours for the next several weeks while they undertake additional training. ‘We know that airlines such as BA are recruiting additional cabin crew.’ Pictured: Long queues at Heathrow Terminal 2

‘BA has actually reduced down a number of its flights up until the end of May to recognise that way they can operate reliably,’ said John Strickland. Pictured: Queues at Heathrow Terminal 2

BA cancelled at least half a dozen flights from Heathrow Terminal 5 on Monday. Flights to Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Oslo and Krakow were among those cancelled. Pictured: Queues at the BA check in desk at Terminal 5

Meanwhile, Birmingham Airport has been described as ‘hell’ by holidaymakers over the last few days. Pictured: Queues of people for security at Birmingham Airport 


Thousands looking to jet off into the sun have been hit with flight and baggage delays. Those already at the Midlands airport warned others to arrive early or face missing flights. One passenger, Allie Mann, wrote on Twitter at 11.37am yesterday: ‘Been sat on a plane at Birmingham Airport for over three hours due to there being no staff. Absolutely appalling.’ Another holidaymaker travelling out of Birmingham Airport this morning has warned others about the delays. Rebecca Young, taking pictures of the queues, wrote on Twitter: ‘Anyone travelling from Birmingham Airport today, give yourself plenty of time! Queues are absolutely ridiculous.’

‘We have focused on consolidating flights where we have multiple frequencies so customers have more options to rebook their travel, often on the same day, and we expect to make similar levels of pre-emptive cancellations over the coming days, due to the ongoing high level of sickness.

‘We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to customers on affected flights. 

‘We are contacting customers directly and providing them with their options which include rebooking onto an alternative flight, or receiving a voucher or full refund.’ 

Meanwhile, BA cancelled at least half a dozen flights from Heathrow Terminal 5 on Monday. Flights to Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Oslo and Krakow were among those cancelled.

Eurotunnel passengers face three-hour delays after train is halted in the Channel Tunnel 

Eurotunnel passengers face a three hour delay on Monday morning due a train being halted in the Channel Tunnel.

Eurotunnel – the vehicle carrying railway tunnel that connects Folkestone with Coquelles beneath the English Channel – is reporting a three hour delay to services. 

The travel firm, which is separate from the passenger-only Eurostar service, said it was due to a train stopped in the tunnel. 

‘Due to a train stopped temporarily in the tunnel, our service is currently experiencing delays. Please check-in as planned. Apologies for this,’ Eurotunnel said on Twitter.

Passenger service Eurostar, which operates trains between London St Pancras and Europe, and which uses the same tunnels, also has delays, according to its website though has yet to post any updates on its Twitter page. 

A delay warning on its website says: ‘Your train has been delayed because part of the track is temporarily closed in the Channel Tunnel. Speed restrictions are in place. We are sorry for the impact this may have on your plans.’

The airline said: ‘Aviation has been one of the industries worst hit by the pandemic, and airlines and airports are experiencing the same issues rebuilding their operations while managing the continuing impact of Covid.

‘So while the vast majority of our flights continue to operate as planned, as a precaution we’ve slightly reduced our schedule between now and the end of May as we ramp back up.

‘We’ve apologised to customers who are affected by this and to limit the inconvenience have re-booked them onto earlier or later flights on the same day they were originally due to travel where possible.

‘We’re also offering them the opportunity to book onto an alternative flight or request a full refund.’

Dave Dobson, 59, a psychotherapist from Chester, was one of those flying with BA on Monday. He said: ‘I was warned through Booking.com that said there would be disruption. 

‘I am anxious, worried and constantly checking for updates. My bag drop is supposed to be in 50 minutes. 

‘I booked with BA because I had a voucher and because I wanted to fly to Linate airport which is closer to the centre of Milan. There has been no direct communication from them at all which is really not good enough.’ 

Ken Dickinson, 74, a retired solicitor from Whetherby, West Yorkshire, said: ‘BA have been changing a lot of flights and when I look at my booking it says flights have been cancelled. 

‘It is ridiculous. They are not handling the situation well and have been very vague. There is no information or communication from them.’ 

A Heathrow spokesperson said: ‘The Easter holiday is the first time where UK travel restrictions have been fully removed since the start of the pandemic and we are expecting passenger numbers, not seen since early March 2020. 

‘We have been preparing for this for many months, but like most airports we do anticipate that the travel experience may take slightly longer during peak periods. 

‘We are deploying extra colleagues across Heathrow, and we continue to work closely with all our airport partners to help ensure passengers get away as efficiently as possible.’ 

Meanwhile, Birmingham has been described as ‘hell’ by holidaymakers over the last few days.

Thousands looking to jet off into the sun have been hit with flight and baggage delays. Those already at the Midlands airport are warning others to arrive early or face missing flights.

One passenger, Allie Mann, wrote on Twitter at 11.37am yesterday: ‘Been sat on a plane at Birmingham Airport for over three hours due to there being no staff. Absolutely appalling.’

Another holidaymaker travelling out of Birmingham Airport this morning has warned others about the delays. Rebecca Young, taking pictures of the queues, wrote on Twitter on Monday: ‘Anyone travelling from Birmingham Airport today, give yourself plenty of time! Queues are absolutely ridiculous.’

Gatwick meanwhile says it has also faced some disruption yesterday, primarily at check-in desks.  However Sam Caven, 47, who was flying to Gran Canaria described her journey as ‘very smooth’.

Gatwick meanwhile said it also faced some disruption on Monday, primarily at check-in desks. However Sam Caven, 47, who was flying to Gran Canaria described her journey as ‘very smooth’

A Gatwick Airport (pictured) spokesperson said: ‘The terminals may be busy during peak periods, such as weekends and the Easter holidays, when we see the airport returning to 2019 levels, and Gatwick is advising passengers to arrive at the earliest time their airline allows to check-in – and to make sure they know what they can and cannot carry through security before arriving at the airport

A Gatwick (pictured) spokesperson said: ‘Passengers are also reminded to check that their passports are still valid – and have enough time left on them for the country being visited – and to check the foreign travel advice for all countries they will visit, or pass through, well in advance of travel’

Bosses of the company behind Manchester Airport (pictured), which is in the same group as Stansted and East Midlands Airport, said it had seen a 1,300 percent increase increase in passenger numbers in February – compared to the previous year when the country was in lockdown.

Airport disruption, meanwhile, is being blamed on Covid-enforced staff shortages, with Manchester Airport (pictured) on Sunday saying it was exploring the possibility of bringing in short-term agency staff to help bring the chaos under control

A Manchester Airport (pictured) spokesperson admitted the airport was short-staffed. In a statement on Sunday, a spokesperson said: ‘We apologise to passengers whose experience at Manchester Airport has fallen short of the standards they expected.’

She said: ‘We only arrived half an hour early and it’s been all good so far. EasyJet staff have been really helpful. It’s been a smooth journey. Very smooth.’

While other customers said they had noticed a slight increase in passenger numbers at the airport yesterday they were unconcerned.

Isabella Marmataai, 21, who was heading back home to Athens, added: ‘It’s all gone really smoothly. here’s no delays so fingers crossed it stays that way. I’d say there’s more people than usual but we always arrive super early anyway.’ 

A Gatwick Airport spokesperson said: ‘The terminals may be busy during peak periods, such as weekends and the Easter holidays, when we see the airport returning to 2019 levels, and Gatwick is advising passengers to arrive at the earliest time their airline allows to check-in – and to make sure they know what they can and cannot carry through security before arriving at the airport.

‘Passengers are also reminded to check that their passports are still valid – and have enough time left on them for the country being visited – and to check the foreign travel advice for all countries they will visit, or pass through, well in advance of travel.’

Meanwhile, bosses at Stansted have warned queues may be longer than usual. An estimated 1.3 million people will travel through Stansted over the school holidays, with 240,000 passengers expected over the four-day Easter weekend – compared to around only 8,000 in 2021. 

Steve Griffiths, Stansted’s managing director, said queues may be longer than passengers are used to and urged passengers to arrive in good time.

‘The lifting of international travel restrictions has been extremely good news for passengers and the whole of the aviation industry following the most challenging two years in our history,’ he said.

‘While queues may be longer than people are used to at times, customers can definitely help us by arriving in good time.’  

One expert warned disruption at airports could last ‘months’, as travel firms desperately attempted to up their staffing levels to deal with an increase in demand for travel.

John Strickland, from JLS Consulting, an independent air travel consultancy firm, told BBC Radio 4 on Monday: ‘Certainly the next month of two is going to be very difficult.

‘We know that Manchester Airport has said that passengers should expect queues of one to two hours for the next  several weeks while they undertake additional training. We know that airlines such as BA are recruiting additional cabin crew. 

Manchester Airport apologised for its services over the weekend after staff shortages led to hours of delays for passengers checking in

Large queues were reported at Manchester Airport on Sunday as the first April weekend got off to a difficult start

Alison Unwin, 60, also saw scores of uncollected bags in Manchester Airport – from flights which landed the day before – strewn around the reclaim hall in Terminal 3


On Twitter, one user posted on Sunday: ‘Manchester Airport not ideal as it’s so busy. Well done as it’s organised and amazing staff are smiling through abuse and announcements etc… Gutted about our fast track passes and not being able to use them.’ Those taking ferries to France have fared litter better. Some lorry drivers reported up to two hour delays in getting to the Port of Dover on Monday morning. One wrote on Twitter: ‘Update… almost two hours after entering Dover I’m almost at check in.’

Massive traffic queues were seen in Dover on Sunday as a shortage of ferry services meant severe delays for HGV drivers

‘BA has actually reduced down a number of its flights up until the end of May to recognise that way they can operate reliably.’

Meanwhile, Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, told MailOnline that a severe lack of staff was to blame.

He also said BA were putting up prices ‘sharply’ to act as a ‘deterrent’ to customers looking for an Easter getaway.

Research by MailOnline shows prices have risen as high as £1,000 for return flights to European destinations this Easter. One return flight with BA from London to Pathos in Cyprus from Thursday, April 7, to Thursday, April 14, is currently being priced at £1,086.

Travel experts say travel firms are suffering from wave of resignations from ‘battle-weary’ staff who worked during the pandemic

Under pressure travel firms are suffering from a perfect storm of high passenger numbers and a recent wave of resignations from ‘battle-weary staff’.

The Travel Network Group chief executive, Gary Lewis, yesterday said the travel industry had been struck by a recent wave of resignations of staff who had worked through the pandemic.

He told Travel Weekly: ‘The crisis is about existing people leaving because they’ve gone through two years of being battered. And those that have left aren’t necessarily coming back.’

Janice Hogarth, secretary of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, admitted it might be impossible to persuade some of those who have left the sector to return.

She told the website: ‘There are those who have just absolutely had enough. They are battle-weary, and I don’t know if we’ll ever get them back. They just feel they’re not willing to [come back] at this point so it’s how we go about attracting them.’  

Another expert yesterday warned disruption at airports could last ‘months’, as travel firms desperately attempted to up their staffing levels to deal with an increase in demand for travel.

John Strickland, from JLS Consulting, an independent air travel consultancy firm, told BBC Radio 4: ‘Certainly the next month of two is going to be very difficult.

‘We know that Manchester Airport has said that passengers should expect queues of one to two hours for the next  several weeks while they undertake additional training. We know that airlines such as BA are recruiting additional cabin crew. 

He said: ‘Like several airlines and airports, BA is suffering from a severe lack of staff due to Covid. Crews and pilots are having to isolate at home. This is having a major impact on its ability to run the frequency of flights it had planned. 

‘So BA is effectively putting up prices sharply to act as a deterrent so that it reduces the likely number of passengers who will be affected by future cancellations.

‘If more crews return earlier than expected, then BA will be in the lucky position of having earned more per seat than it had forecasted for. 

‘The cocktail of problems for BA and other airlines is also deepened by the higher oil price and the resulting cost of fuel.

‘It’s an expensive time to be running an airline – all in a year when many of us in the sector were predicting a stronger bounceback post-Covid. 

‘Strong demand is there from consumers – but some airlines and airports are having major difficulties delivering anything like a decent quality of service.’

Meanwhile, The Travel Network Group chief executive, Gary Lewis, said the travel industry had been struck by a recent wave of resignations from ‘battle-weary’ staff who had worked through the pandemic.

He told Travel Weekly: ‘The crisis is about existing people leaving because they’ve gone through two years of being battered. And those that have left aren’t necessarily coming back.’

Janice Hogarth, secretary of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, admitted it might be impossible to persuade some of those who have left the sector to return.

She told the website: ‘There are those who have just absolutely had enough. They are battle-weary, and I don’t know if we’ll ever get them back. They just feel they’re not willing to [come back] at this point so it’s how we go about attracting them.’

Away from airports, those taking ferries to France have fared litter better. Some lorry drivers reported up to two hour delays in getting to the Port of Dover on Monday morning. One wrote on Twitter: ‘Update… almost two hours after entering Dover I’m almost at check in.’

Gridlocked traffic at the Kent port, along with poor sea conditions in the Channel and the suspension of P&O services following its recent staffing row resulted in nine hour delays on Sunday.

The British Ports Association told The Times that it expected congestion to ease but that disruption would continue until the middle of the week.  

Richard Ballantyne, head of the British Ports Association, told the BBC: ‘Yesterday (Saturday) we were up to nine-hour queues outside the port. 

‘Traffic measures are in place, which… are working fairly well and it enables other people around east Kent and businesses, residents etc to move around freely. 

‘But [it is] not a good position if you’re stuck in a vehicle for six to eight hours.’

To add to the chaos, Eurotunnel – a vehicle carrying railway tunnel that connects Folkestone with Coquelles beneath the English Channel – reported a three hour delay to services. The travel firm said it was due to a train stopped in the tunnel. 

‘Due to a train stopped temporarily in the tunnel, our service is currently experiencing delays.  Please check-in as planned. Apologies for this,’ Eurotunnel said on Twitter. 

To add to the chaos, Eurotunnel – a vehicle carrying railway tunnel that connects Folkestone with Coquelles beneath the English Channel – reported a three hour delay to services. The travel firm said it was due to a train stopped in the tunnel

Passenger service Eurostar, which operates trains between London St Pancras and Europe, and which uses the same tunnels, also had delays, according to its website 

Passenger service Eurostar, which operates trains between London St Pancras and Europe, and which uses the same tunnels, also had delays, according to its website.

A delay warning on its website said: ‘Your train has been delayed because part of the track is temporarily closed in the Channel Tunnel. 

Industry expert warns delays at airports could ‘last for months’ 

A travel industry expert yesterday warned disruption at airports could last ‘months’, as travel firms desperately attempted to up their staffing levels to deal with an increase in demand for travel.

John Strickland, from JLS Consulting, an independent air travel consultancy firm, told BBC Radio 4: ‘Certainly the next month of two is going to be very difficult.

‘We know that Manchester Airport has said that passengers should expect queues of one to two hours for the next  several weeks while they undertake additional training.

‘We know that airlines such as BA are recruiting additional cabin crew. BA has actually reduced down a number of its flights up until the end of May to recognise that way they can operate reliably.’

‘Speed restrictions are in place. We are sorry for the impact this may have on your plans.’ 

It comes after video footage shared online also showed incredibly long queues at security at Manchester Airport, with bunched up passengers struggling to put their items into trays.

Fuming holidaymakers branded the transport hub ‘the worst in Europe’ for failing to prepare for the spike in travel following the easing of Covid restrictions.  

One fed-up passenger yesterday fumed: ‘@manairport you are an absolute disgrace! It was dangerous today, people will get hurt if you do not improve things.’ 

Others reported queuing for four hours to get through check-in and security, with several missing flights, while one added: ‘Manchester Airport is a disgrace, dangerous and a shambles.’

Images shared online showed suitcases piling up and falling off the conveyer belt, with some becoming visibly damaged. 

The airport has struggled to cope after seeing passenger numbers explode, with figures for February showing a huge year-on-year increase, from 70,000 passengers to more than two million.  

Manchester Airport is partly owned by the Labour run City Council. Following a meeting with airport bosses, councillor Pat Karney – who previously warned that the travel hub’s reputation was ‘nosediving’ – said they had come up with a six-point plan to fix the issues. 

He also said the airport needed to ‘level with the public’ after being told of problems he had not been aware of, adding: ‘To be brutally honest, we’re going to have delays and queues over Easter’.

The chaos at Manchester followed major disruption at Heathrow last week following an IT meltdown within BA.

More than 5,000 passengers, including those on long-haul flights, were impacted, with almost 1,000 flights either delayed or cancelled within a seven day period. BA said figure included any delay, including those caused by late passengers, as well as historic cancellations, such as on flights to Moscow or those removed from the schedule due to Covid’s impact on the travel industry.

Manchester Airport has struggled to cope after seeing passenger numbers explode, with figures for February showing a huge year-on-year increase, from 70,000 passengers to more than two million. (Pictured: Chaotic scenes at security on Friday) 

Severe delays were also reported at Heathrow Airport on Saturday (pictured), with some passengers left waiting for over an hour on air bridge

It comes as the biggest Covid surveillance in the UK suggested that Covid is now more rife in England than at any other time during the virus crisis.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week estimated more than 4.1 million people had the virus on any given day over the week to March 26, equivalent to one in 13 being infected.

The figure is the highest ever recorded in England, topping the previous peak of 3.7m at the height of the Omicron wave in January. It is also 18 per cent higher than a fortnight ago.

In the most Covid-ridden towns of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch, as many as one in nine people were thought to have the virus. And infections have soared to pandemic highs in all over-35s.

Britain’s outbreak as a whole is also bigger than ever, with 4.9m now thought to be infected — up from 4.3m last week.

Statisticians said England’s surge was being driven by the more transmissible version of Omicron, scientifically named BA. Although, ministers admit that ditching the final Covid restrictions last month also fueled the uptick.

Despite the mass testing project warning that cases show no signs of slowing yet, top scientists are hopeful that the worst may be over. Official numbers — reliant on people getting tested, as opposed to random swabbing — have been falling for a week, bolstering hopes that the virus was running out of steam.

Hospitalisations are still ticking upwards, but official figures suggest about half of admissions are now ‘incidental’ — when someone is admitted to hospital for something else such as a fall but then tests positive for Covid. NHS intensive care rates have barely budged, despite cases continuing to soar.

The record-breaking cases were revealed on the day England entered a ‘new era’ of the pandemic, with millions no longer able to get free Covid swabs to check whether they have the virus for the first time in a year.

Experts last week argued the timing of the end of free testing ‘couldn’t really be worse’, and that the country would now have to rely on the public ‘doing the right thing’ and getting tested when unwell. A chorus of gloomy Government advisers last week issued a string of new warnings about the pressure on the health service.

But ministers have insisted it is the ‘right’ moment to scrap the mass-testing regime, which cost No10 up to £2bn-a-month. Only the most vulnerable and health care workers are still able to get free swabs.

** Have you experienced airport delays today? Email [email protected] ** 

    Covid is now more prevalent than EVER in England… Official statistics show 4.1million people – or one in 13 – were infected last week as country enters new phase of pandemic with free tests axed

    By Luke Andrews, Health Reporter for MailOnline

    Covid is now more rife in England than at any other time during the virus crisis, the biggest Covid surveillance scheme suggested last week.

    The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated more than 4.1million people had the virus on any given day over the week to March 26, equivalent to one in 13 being infected.

    The figure is the highest ever recorded in England, topping the previous peak of 3.7m at the height of the Omicron wave in January. It is also 18 per cent higher than a fortnight ago.

    In the most Covid-ridden towns of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch, as many as one in nine people were thought to have the virus. And infections have soared to pandemic highs in all over-35s.

    Britain’s outbreak as a whole is also bigger than ever, with 4.9m now thought to be infected — up from 4.3m last week.

    Statisticians said England’s surge was being driven by the more transmissible version of Omicron, scientifically named BA. Although, ministers admit that ditching the final Covid restrictions last month also fueled the uptick.

    Despite the mass testing project warning that cases show no signs of slowing yet, top scientists are hopeful that the worst may be over. Official numbers — reliant on people getting tested, as opposed to random swabbing — have been falling for a week, bolstering hopes that the virus was running out of steam.

    Hospitalisations are still ticking upwards, but official figures suggest about half of admissions are now ‘incidental’ — when someone is admitted to hospital for something else such as a fall but then tests positive for Covid. NHS intensive care rates have barely budged, despite cases continuing to soar.

    The record-breaking cases were revealed on the day England entered a ‘new era’ of the pandemic, with millions no longer able to get free Covid swabs to check whether they have the virus for the first time in a year.

    Experts last week argued the timing of the end of free testing ‘couldn’t really be worse’, and that the country would now have to rely on the public ‘doing the right thing’ and getting tested when unwell. A chorus of gloomy Government advisers last week issued a string of new warnings about the pressure on the health service.

    But ministers have insisted it is the ‘right’ moment to scrap the mass-testing regime, which cost No10 up to £2bn-a-month. Only the most vulnerable and health care workers are still able to get free swabs.

    The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated more than 4.1million people had the virus on any given day over the week to March 26, equivalent to one in 13 being infected. The figure is the highest ever recorded in England, topping the previous peak of 3.7m at the height of the Omicron wave in January. It is also 18 per cent higher than last week

    The ONS survey is seen as the gold-standard for tracking the pandemic by ministers because it relies on more than 100,000 random swabs, meaning it can reach groups which would normally avoid getting tested.

    From last week it became England’s main method for monitoring Covid outbreaks, with the universal testing offer coming to an end.

    But it lags about a week behind the situation on the ground. And it is also set to be scaled down in the coming weeks under Government plans. 

    Results from the ONS survey also revealed infections have hit a record-high in Wales, where one in 14 people now have the virus (212,000 cases last week).

    Scotland recorded the highest infection rate in the country with one in 12 having Covid (451,000), but this was down five per cent on last week’s record.  Northern Ireland saw its cases rise 13 per cent to one in 15 being infected (123,000).

    In England, all legal Covid requirements came to an end in February, although guidance to wear face coverings in crowded places and isolate when suffering symptoms or testing positive is still in place. The same approach is in place in Northern Ireland.

    And guidance is similar in Wales, after laws to wear masks and isolate after testing positive were scrapped on Monday. But people are still told to wear masks in health and social care settings.

    But rules are stricter in Scotland, where laws set out that individuals must wear masks in shops, hospitality venues and on public transport. And infected people are still required to isolate for at least seven days. 

    Kara Steel, senior statistician for the ONS Covid survey, said: ‘Infection levels remain high, with the highest levels recorded in our survey seen in England and Wales and notable increases among older age groups.

    ‘The rapid rise continues to be fuelled by the growth of the Omicron BA.2 variant across the UK.

    ‘We continue to closely monitor the data and remain thankful to all of our participants for their contribution.’

    ONS statistics showed cases rose across all regions of England last week and among over-25s.

    They reached record levels among over-50s, who are most vulnerable to the virus.

    But in a sign the wave may be slowing cases plateaued among the under-25s, who have had the highest infection rates throughout much of the pandemic.

    Professor James Naismith, director of Oxford University’s Rosalind Franklin Institute said the figures showed BA.2 ‘is extremely good at infecting people’.

    ‘It remains my view that unless you are completely shielded or are not susceptible to the virus, by the summer you are more likely to have been infected with BA.2 than not,’ he said.

    ‘No part of the UK has currently implemented effective control measures, the limit on prevalence of the virus is simply the proportion of susceptible people.

    ‘This is literally living with the virus by being infected with it.

    ‘Omicron BA.2 is less severe but the main reason we have endured this wave with many fewer deaths is vaccination. Vaccination has meant the elderly and vulnerable have been able to fight off this virus without very serious illness after being infected.’

    He added: ‘With such a high prevalence, as a country we have decided to run a long covid19 experiment. Long covid19 is recognised illness and there are now some clear markers for the disease.

    ‘It seems likely with some evidence but not yet conclusively proven that vaccination significantly reduces the likelihood and severity of long covid, more work on long covid is urgently needed.

    ‘The safety and efficacy of vaccines have been proven beyond any doubt.’

    Meanwhile, daily Government data shows the UK’s Covid cases have now fallen for five days in a row.

    UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) dashboard data showed another 69,811 infections were logged in the last 24 hours, which was down nine per cent on last Friday.

    Deaths continued to rise, however, with 191 recorded yesterday — up 11 per cent on the same time last week. Another 2,509 hospitalisations with the virus were also recorded on March 28, the latest date available, up 12 per cent in a week and the most since late December at the height of the Omicron wave. 

    The UKHSA data suggest cases have now fallen for six days in a row.

    They differ from the ONS in that they are based on the number of positive tests reported nationally, and that they are released every day rather than every week.

    But they are a potential early signal that the current wave may already be slowing down.  

    Sir Patrick, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, yesterday told MPs earlier yesterday that ‘infections are beginning to turn so we may be quite close to, or at, the peak and it may start coming down shortly’.

    But other top scientists yesterday warned the health service is under severe pressure and Britons should continue to wear masks to limit the spread of the virus, the day before free Covid tests for all is scrapped.

    Sir Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, told a conference: ‘The waves are still occurring.’ He added they will ‘certainly’ continue. 

    And Dame Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), called for the nation to keep wearing face masks because infection rates are so high. 

    She said that Britons should be ‘very sensible and take precautions in periods of high prevalence as we have now’.

    The record high ONS case rates come as the universal testing offer is dropped in England after it cost £2billion-a-month to run in January.

    Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London, who runs the Zoe Covid tracking app, said the timing of the end of free testing ‘couldn’t really be worse’.

    He warned England was now in a situation of ‘having to rely on the public to actually do the right thing and get these tests themselves when they get sick’.

    He told Times Radio that ‘if we’re not having free testing, let’s have a clear policy on how you would know that you’re infected, and therefore you can self-isolate.

    ‘To do that, the Government needs to admit that the symptoms of Covid have changed in the last two years, and that 80 per cent of people now present with cold-like symptoms.

    ‘And there should be a public health campaign to say at the moment, when your chances of having Covid are greater than a cold…test if you can afford it – (and) even if you can’t – assume you’ve got Covid.’ 

    Scotland is not ending its free testing offer until next month, while in Wales the swabs will be offered until July. There are no plans yet to end mass testing in Northern Ireland.

    The ZOE Symptom study app estimated there were 349,000 new Covid cases every day over the week to 29 March.

    This was up seven per cent on the previous week, and suggested one in 15 people in the UK currently has Covid.

    Professor Spector said cases were continuing to soar to ‘all time highs’ but that the slowing in the rate of increase was a promising sign. 

    On Thursday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said people must ‘learn to live with Covid’ as campaigners criticised the end of free testing.

    He told reporters: ‘We are one of the most open and free countries in the world now, and that’s because of decisions that we’ve taken as a country… and it is right also as we learn to live with Covid that we withdraw free testing – universally… if it’s not needed any more, but we focus those resources on the people that need it most. And that’s what we’re doing.’

    But Carers UK and the Alzheimer’s Society criticised the move, with the latter saying it ‘risks gambling’ with the lives of people living with dementia.

    The Alzheimer’s Society has been campaigning to keep lateral flow tests free for all people visiting loved ones in care homes.

    While free testing ends in England, it will continue during April in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and until the summer in Wales.

    The most recent data shows there were 15,632 people in hospital in England with Covid-19 as of Wednesday, up 18 per cent week on week and the highest since January 19. 

    Source: Read Full Article