UK travellers face holiday ruin over '10-week backlog' for passport renewals

Lengthy delays blamed on disruption at US-owned courier company TNT

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð Mar 7,2011: New cargo facility for TNT opened at Cargo Village in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Business. Story by Ivan

The winter holiday plans of thousands of would-be travellers have been thrown into doubt due to courier delays at the UK Passport Office.

Sun-seekers in Britain are looking to travel abroad now that many Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted but passport deliveries are taking more than two months due to disruption at TNT, the firm contracted by the government to dispatch newly issued travel documents.

Applicants are complaining that scheduled delivery dates have been pushed back repeatedly by TNT, whose customer services have been “uncontactable”.

The problems at TNT come on top of delays at the Passport Office administration, which is straining under increased demand. The UK government website states that applicants should "allow 10 weeks" for their new passports to arrive.

Millions of people in Britain typically fly abroad on holiday over the winter months but their dreams of a Christmas getaway could be dashed unless the backlog is eased.

The disruption has led to an online petition being launched, while irate passport applicants are demanding answers from TNT.

A handout picture released on February 21, 2020 by the UK Home Office press office shows a model holding a new blue United Kingdom passport. Britain will issue blue passports next month for the first time in almost three decades following its departure from the European Union, the government said on Saturday.
 - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / UK HOME OFFICE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS


 / AFP / UK HOME OFFICE / STRINGER / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / UK HOME OFFICE" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

TNT landed a three-year contract in 2019, worth £77 million ($102m), to deliver new UK passports.

The courier company, which is owned by FedEx, blames the backlog on a surge of passport applications after Covid-19 travel restrictions were eased by No 10 Downing Street.

“We are taking additional steps to provide timely delivery by adding additional resources to the operations,” the company said.

Britain is struggling with a drastic shortage of delivery and lorry drivers in recent months, resulting in a knock-on effect to the country's overstretched supply chain.

The government said it would issue 5,000 temporary visas for lorry drivers to help ease the strain. But it was revealed in October that only 127 foreign drivers had been granted a three-month visa under the scheme.

Updated: November 25th 2021, 1:01 PM
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