Flight cancellations, Dover queues and tube closures threaten to put a dampener on holiday plans over the Easter weekend.
The UK’s infrastructure is struggling to cope with an influx of passengers eager to get away for the Easter holidays, leading to thousands of flight cancellations and major delays at the UK’s busiest transport hubs.
Airlines are braced to fork out a £100m compensation bill to passengers facing disruption in the build up to Easter, the Telegraph first reported.
Almost 1,200 flights have been cancelled over the past seven days and a similar number are likely to be abandoned over the next week as airports battle covid related staff shortages and increased passenger numbers.
Civil Aviation Authority boss Richard Moriarty has told airlines to schedule flights “on a basis that is deliverable given available staff and has resilience for staff sickness, including from Covid,” amid scenes of huge queues at Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester airports.
Meanwhile, the suspension of P&O ferry services has reduced capacity at the channel crossing leading to enormous queues at the port of Dover. Rival ferry operator DFDS, which runs 54 daily sailings to France, told City A.M. the firm increased capacity by half a dozen ships this weekend and is prepared to do so again over the Easter break.
“It has been a very busy weekend, with passenger numbers up 50 per cent on last weekend,” commented DFDS director Chris Parker, who praised staff for working quickly to “clear the backlog of lorries and ensure that holidaymakers were able to get away.”
“We anticipate another busy weekend over the Easter holiday and will continue to do everything we can to keep traffic flowing via our routes,” Parker continued.
Londoners could also be caught up in the travel disruption with key stretches of major tube lines set to close.
The Hammersmith & City Line will not be running over the Easter weekend and large stretches of the District Line are due to be axed. The Piccadilly Line will stop ferrying passengers from Acton Town to Heathrow Airport and Rayners Lane to Uxbridge amid track works. Additional stretches of the Northern Line, which is partly closed for engineering works, will also be shut down.
Andy Lord, TFL’s chief operating officer, has advised customers to check before they travel adding that despite some closures “the majority of the public transport network will be open over the Easter weekend.”