Britain is bracing for travel chaos in the coming days as the start of summer coincides with Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee celebrations, kicking off the first holiday season in three years with few coronavirus restrictions.
London’s Gatwick Airport said it was expecting its busiest traffic since the start of the pandemic in 2020, while Liverpool football supporters were told to expect long queues on their way to Paris for Saturday’s Champions League final.
Low-cost airline easyJet announced on Saturday that 200 flights from Gatwick would be cancelled over the next 10 days because of pressure on services, after IT problems caused problems for passengers on Friday.
It apologised for the short notice but said the cancellations were “necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period”. There were complaints of long queues at Gatwick and Stansted airports.
Tui, another airline, said it too had cancelled some flights after “various operational and supply chain issues" caused delays. The axed flights were from Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester.
Staff shortages and supply chain problems hampered the air industry’s recovery from coronavirus-related shutdowns.
The ferry port of Dover said passengers should bring “adequate supplies”, including food and water, to prepare for anticipated long queues.
Thousands of Liverpool supporters have descended on the port at England’s southern tip to board cross-Channel ferries on their way to Paris.
There is also high demand for sailings from families taking their children on holiday at the start of a week off for many schools.
Thursday and Friday have been designated public holidays to celebrate the jubilee, opening up a four-day weekend for holidaymakers.
Organisers said roads and public transport will be especially busy next weekend.
Showpiece events include a Trooping the Colour parade in London, a thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral, a concert at Buckingham Palace and a pageant with performers from across the Commonwealth nations.
The queen, 96, has been seen in public at several recent events after mobility problems largely kept her out of view for months. She is the first British monarch to reign for 70 years.