Huge airport queues are raising fears of a bank holiday collapse as ministers are told to “get a grip” before schools close in two weeks
- More airport chaos is expected in the coming weeks as the summer holidays draw closer
- Schools in England and Wales will disband, sparking a travel rush
- Labor yesterday urged Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to ‘get a grip on it quickly’
- And unions vowed to resist plans to relax night flight rules
Fears of a summer meltdown at UK airports mounted yesterday as passengers queued in car parks and outside terminal buildings.
A bank holiday rush is expected in just over two weeks, when most schools in England and Wales close.
Labor yesterday urged Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to “get a grip on it quickly”.
It came as easyJet’s chief operating officer resigned amid anger at the low-cost airline’s cancellation of thousands of flights.
And unions said they would oppose plans to relax night flying rules, which would result in staff working “antisocial hours”.
Security queues at Heathrow Terminal 2 were seen outside the doors yesterday morning
A passenger at Manchester Airport (pictured) showed queues in a car park yesterday
A passenger waiting at Manchester Airport yesterday tweeted a photo of a line to enter Terminal 3, stretching into the multi-storey car park.
A second complained of “carnage,” while a third added: “Today is the worst ever. Actually standing in the parking lot to wait for security. Complete shambles.”
Travelers have also posted images of long lines at Heathrow, with one saying the security queue “starts outside the terminal”. He added: “Avoid at all costs. Total mess.’
Troubles at Heathrow are set to worsen as the school holidays begin and check-in and ground staff are expected to go on strike.
But insiders denied the safety wait times were excessive yesterday.
Life was no better yesterday in Stansted, where passengers arrived extra early for their flights
A passenger in Manchester yesterday claimed the queue stretched into a multi-storey car park
At London City Airport – which has largely escaped the worst of the disruptions – a passenger said it “took three hours to get through security at 6am”.
Unions say no to more night flights as they resist government attempts to solve the airport crisis
Union bosses have vowed to oppose the use of night flights to ease travel chaos, it was reported last night.
In another blow to holidaymakers, unions said they would oppose plans to relax overnight flight rules, which would result in staff working “antisocial hours”.
Airlines are limited to the number of flights that can operate between 11:30 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. at major airports, which often results in flights being canceled when they are delayed.
Amid mounting pressure to resolve the travel chaos, the Department for Transport said it would consider suspending the rules to ease disruption.
But last night unions vowed to oppose the plans over fears workers could be forced to work long hours at night.
A GMB union source told the Daily Telegraph: “It is not fair to force our members to work nights to fill the gaps for their mistakes.”
Holidaymakers are now facing a summer of travel chaos in Europe, while countries across the continent grapple with staff shortages and strikes.
Huw Merriman, chair of the Transport Select Committee, warned that the plan “could upset local residents” but said he was open to learning more about the lifting of the nighttime ban.
He added: “I don’t see what that would do and I can see the damage that would do. I don’t know if the crew wants to fly at 2am.”
He added: “Totally out of control what a mess.”
Labor MP Ben Bradshaw, who sits on the Commons Transport Committee, said: “If airports are already in a meltdown now, it will only get worse when schools close for the summer holidays. There will be complete chaos if they don’t get it – and fast.’
Heathrow boss has warned up to 18 months of disruption as airlines struggle to hire and train staff.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is considering temporarily suspending night flights.
Airlines are currently limiting how many flights they can operate between 11:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. at major airports, which often leads to cancellations when delays occur.
But a GMB union source told the Daily Telegraph: “It’s not fair to force our members to work nights to fill in the gaps for their mistakes.” In response to passenger complaints, London City Airport insisted the “average travel time” through the airport was 45 minutes yesterday.
A spokesman blamed staff illness and the handling of passengers transferred from other airports.
Manchester Airport apologized for “any inconvenience caused” but insisted “the vast majority of people” got through security in less than 30 minutes yesterday.
Heathrow insisted the airport was “busy but fluid” yesterday and said that while the queues looked “daunting” it was because of the layout of the buildings. A spokesman said the “vast majority” of passengers cleared security in less than 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, easyJet’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Bellew resigned yesterday as pressure mounts on the airline to reduce flight disruption. It has canceled thousands of flights in recent months – including many just hours before their scheduled departure.
Airlines have until Friday to benefit from a government amnesty that allows them to change airport schedules without facing a potential penalty.
Mr Shapps is trying to avoid a summer repeat of the chaos over the Easter and Platinum Jubilee holidays.
The government has ordered screening centers to conduct screenings of new recruits to give priority to airport staff. The DfT said counter-terrorism and accreditation checks are now being completed in record time.
A passenger at Heathrow Airport posted this image of a huge crowd at 4am yesterday
Queues in the car park at Manchester Airport yesterday as passengers attempted to leave on holiday
A Heathrow spokesman said: “This is a busy time as people make the most of the opportunity to travel for the first summer in three years. We do everything we can to ensure everyone has a good trip, and for the vast majority of passengers, this is the experience they have.’
A DfT spokesman said it was “working closely with the aviation sector to help holidaymakers enjoy the summer holidays they deserve”.
He added: “It is now up to airlines to commit to operating the flights they have promised, and airports and ground handlers to ensure they have the staff to make those flights possible.”