The UK Government should send in the army to relieve pressure from airports as the travel mayhem rages on, according to Ryanair’s boss Michael O’Leary.
“Bringing in the army, which they do and many other European airports, would, at a stroke, relieve the pressure on airport security and would mean that people have a much better experience – not just this weekend, but for each weekend over the next three, four months,” O’Leary told the Telegraph.
O’Leary’s comments come a day after ministers accused airlines of wasting police resources as agents were forced to escort passengers who were left “abandoned” on a TUI aircraft at Manchester airport on Monday.
“It’s an appalling waste of police resources from airlines, who should know better,” a Home Office source told the Times. “Airlines need to get a grip and focus on delivering for their customers.
According to the ministry source, the current situation is an airlines’ problem as “they treated staff appallingly throughout the pandemic [and] didn’t innovate and didn’t come up with a solution” but instead they complained to the government.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said he had a “productive meeting” with industry stakeholders – including British Airways (BA), easyJet, TUI as well as Gatwick and Bristol airports – last night.
Shapps called on the industry to do their bit and said: “We have been crystal clear – run services properly and according to schedule or provide swift, appropriate compensation.
“We do not want to see a repeat of this over the summer – the first post-Covid summer season – and will be meeting again in the coming weeks to understand the progress that is being made.”
The secretary urged travellers to check before they travel.
“Many people are expected to travel over the Jubilee weekend – check before you head off,” he tweeted.
The government was still not exempt from criticism as it was accused of inaction.
Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh, in a letter to Grant Shapps, blamed the government for being “missing in action.”
“Tory ministers can’t even get the basics right,” she said. “They should show some responsibility, do their job, and take concrete steps to tackle the chaos growing on their watch.”
More than 150 flights were cancelled yesterday, as BA and easyJet axed 124 and 31 flights from Heathrow and Gatwick respectively, City A.M. reported. TUI announced on Tuesday it would cut six services per day until the end of June to ease pressures.
The German company was recently lambasted after it was disclosed that senior executives were on “workations” to improve their work-life balance, the Telegraph reported.
According to aviation analytics firm Cirium, easyJet was the most disrupted airline with 249 cancellations over the past week, 66 per cent of all UK cancelled flights.
To minimise disruption at airports, passengers were told to carry only one cabin bag.
“If people can check in online and do not take [large] bags, that limits the disruption” said GMB union’s national secretary Andy Pendergast.
“It’s not a magic bullet but it does reduce the chance of there being problems.”
Pendergast’s words were echoed by Paul Charles, chief executive at travel consultancy PC Agency, who suggested that “passengers should consider packing lightly and travelling with a small bag they can take on board the aircraft.”
Boarding with just one cabin bag would reduce the risk of luggage getting lost and limit delays.