Chaotic queues and delays on UK travel's busiest weekend

British Airways and easyJet cancelled more than 100 flights between them

Passenger queues at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 2 on Saturday. PA

Tourists in the UK are advised to prepare for the worst as the busiest travel weekend of the year so far is hit by delays, cancellations and sickness.

Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports had hundreds of flights cancelled because of a wave of Covid-19 cases and staff shortages.

People travelling to Dover for the Channel Tunnel were warned to carry food and drink as long queues jammed roads around the port.

Toby Howe, tactical lead at the Kent Resilience Forum, advised travellers heading for France to “allow a lot of extra time”.

“Make sure you have got some food and drink because there will be delays. A lot of the minor roads therefore are chock-a-block,” he said.

Mr Howe said it was only the start of the holiday season and forecast that traffic would be busier in the summer months.

British Airways and easyJet cancelled more than 100 services between them, the vast majority of them at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

Manchester Airport, where staff shortages have led to the build-up of lengthy queues, urged passengers to arrive three hours before departure to avoid missing their flights.

After cutting thousands of jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, the aviation industry is suffering from difficulties recruiting staff and waiting for security checks to be passed on new employees. There has also been a recent rise in coronavirus-related staff sickness.

The opposition Labour Party has urged the UK government to intervene and provide help to passengers.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said ministers should prioritise staff at Manchester and other major airports for Home Office security checks so they can start work as soon as possible.

“Brits are facing a week of travel disruption, and this Conservative government are missing in action,” Ms Haigh said.

“Tory ministers need to step-up and act to ease the disruption. The government need to begin clearing the huge backlogs in security checks so airport staff can safely begin work.”

Updated: April 09, 2022, 12:33 PM