Is this the end of the long holidays? Business

Between the start of the Easter holidays and Good Friday, 640 flights at Heathrow had been cancelled. Gatwick was in second place with 221, with Luton a distant third with 60 flights cut. There have been 51 cancellations in Manchester.

Manchester, on the other hand, says it has kept flights running so customers don’t have to divert to other airports, at the cost of longer queues.

“We’ve made the decision that people would rather wait in long lines than spend their Easter holidays in their coaches,” an airport insider said.

This approach has not spared the airline the wrath of travellers. Chief executive Karen Smart resigned earlier this month following widespread criticism of the airport’s handling of the situation, and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham even threatened to call the police and fire department to control crowds.

Meanwhile, the worst could be yet to come as Easter holidaymakers return to the UK. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, was urged a month ago by airlines to beef up passport control staff.

Many Border Force personnel have been redeployed during the pandemic to deal with the migrant crisis in the Channel. “There were concerns that many Border Force personnel had been removed from airports and whether we were going to get them back,” a senior executive told The Telegraph last week.

According to a leaked letter to Patel, Border Force had previously warned that “resourcing the Border this summer is expected to be ‘difficult’ and ‘bumpy’ as passenger numbers increase.”

The Home Office warns of “longer than usual waiting times due to high passenger numbers” at the border.

“We are mobilizing additional staff to help minimize passenger waiting times,” a Home Office spokesperson added.

“Temporary Blip”

Aviation leaders are determined not to let the Easter experience deter travelers from heading abroad again.

“Whatever the cause of the problems, now we all need to get back on top as quickly as possible,” says an airport manager.

“People need to see that this was a temporary issue and that travel will be back to normal soon.”

Charles adds: “I think it’s understandable that the sector can’t cope with this, no matter how good your management is, it’s really difficult to cope with this rebound in demand.”

However, Charles fears that long queues at airports over Easter could mean families with young children in particular are deciding to stay away. With ticket prices soaring for future holidays – to over £1,000 for a family return trip to Malaga, according to travel website Skyscanner – there’s no doubt some people will think again.

“Without a doubt, unfortunately, I think it’s a blow to the reputation of smooth travel,” Charles says.

“The loss of overseas travel is the UK’s gain. Because staycations will take advantage and explode again. Maybe about 10% of people who would have traveled abroad, who will say, “I can’t handle the risk”. I am going to book somewhere in the UK and travel by car or train.

“There are still a lot of people who are nervous about traveling after the pandemic, they can’t be bothered with some of the restrictions yet, they’ll just be like, ‘why take the risk?’

National reservations suggest this is already happening. Holiday park operator Haven says nearly half of its 2.5 million visitors this year are booking for the first time. And rival Parkdean Resorts is looking to hire an additional 7,000 staff at its 66 sites to meet growing demand.

Budget hotel chain Travelodge, meanwhile, was a winner from the Easter chaos.

“The current long delays at airports are also creating a desperate need for travelers to stay in an airport Travelodge so they can get some sleep before ending up in the long queues at the airport,” said a spokesperson.

Nonetheless, O’Leary is decidedly optimistic about the situation. “People have been locked up for two years, they want to go on vacation,” he says.

“UK airports and airlines are struggling due to the sheer strength of a travel recovery.

“Flying is considerably better than trying to get a ferry at the moment with all the P&O ferries locked up. It’s considerably better than driving on the highways congested with roadworks that force the UK to go to Cornwall or Cotswolds.

“Flying is by far the best family experience on this Easter holiday at home in wet and windy Britain.”

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This notice was published: 2022-04-16 11:00:00

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