U.K. Travel Disruption Drags On, Set to Impact Easter Holiday


(Bloomberg) —

Travel disruptions continued to hit U.K. holidaymakers on Sunday as officials warned of expected queues later in the week.

Both EasyJet Plc and British Airways Plc had more cancellations Sunday, though the airlines said those flights had been called off in advance. According to FlightAware data, British Airways canceled 7% of flights today and delayed 9%. More than 20% of EasyJet’s flights are delayed, according to FlightAware, and an airline spokeswoman said 40 flights were canceled in anticipation for Sunday.

“Queues are anticipated as travelers return later this week,” said Lucy Moreton, a spokeswoman for the Immigration Services Union, which represents Border Force staff.

Staff are being deployed to Heathrow airport from Scotland and Northern Ireland to help mitigate the queues.

Travelers who have waited years for the return of overseas holidays are now facing last-minute cancellations of their trips and lengthy queues at airports. Airlines which laid off staff during the coronavirus pandemic are scrambling to add enough people, as well as dealing with coronavirus-related absences. 

Both Heathrow and Gatwick airport said they were expecting significant numbers of travelers over Easter. Heathrow said it was deploying extra staff in anticipation of passenger numbers not seen since early March 2020. 

A Gatwick spokesman said queues may form during peak periods, such as weekends and the Easter Holidays. It advised passengers to arrive at the earliest time their airline allows for check in, typically three hours for long-haul and two-and-a-half for short haul. 

The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority wrote to airlines earlier this week asking them to work with airports to manage staff shortages and ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum. 

The agency’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Moriarty said it’s important that airlines set schedules based on available staff and make allowances for sickness, such as from Covid, as well as meet their obligations to refund passengers if they can’t offer them a suitable alternative flight. 

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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