Holidaymakers jetting off on their late Spring getaway are today facing airport chaos, with delays to flights, ‘shambolic’ organisation and queues stretching outside the terminals.
Passengers at Manchester Airport say they are facing a two-hour wait at security check-in this morning, with queues leading outside the terminal and into to a nearby car-park.
Meanwhile, at Birmingham Airport, passengers have complained of ‘ridiculous’ queues at departures today, with long queues outside the main terminal building.
There are also delays to flights, with at least ten late flights at Manchester and four at Birmingham as of 8am this morning.
It comes as airports up and down the UK continue to face staffing issues in the wake of Covid restrictions. Travel chiefs say the issues have been exasperated by a huge increase in demand for travel following two years of Covid-enforced disruption.
Some have warned the staffing issues, which came to a head last month as people rushed away for the first restriction free Easter Bank Holiday in more than two years, could last as long as a year.
And yesterday EasyJet announced plans to remove seats on some of its planes this summer so that it can operate flights with fewer cabin crew as it too battles staffing issues.
With holidaymakers flocking to airports this morning at the start of a new week, passengers again faced delays at Manchester and Birmingham.
However there did not appear to be queues at Heathrow and Gatwick today. Passengers at the travel hubs, the UK’s two biggest airports, faced delays over Easter – when millions jetted off for a four-day weekend.
One holidaymaker flying out from Manchester Airport today branded the situation a ‘sh*t show’, while others at Birmingham Airport said they feared missing their flight.
Holidaymakers jetting off on their late Spring getaway are today facing airport chaos, with delays to flights, ‘shambolic’ organisation and queues stretching outside terminal buildings. Pictured: Queues at airport security today at Birmingham Airport
At Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1 passengers were today seen queueing outside the terminal building as they waited to get through to security
Passengers at Manchester Airport say they are facing a two-hour wait at security check-in this morning, with queues leading outside the terminal and into to a nearby car-park. Meanwhile, at Birmingham Airport, passengers have complained of ‘ridiculous’ queues at arrivals today, with long queues outside the main terminal building.
There are also delays to flights, with at least ten late flights at Manchester and four at Birmingham as of 8am this morning. It comes as airports up and down the UK continue to face staffing issues in the wake of Covid restrictions. Travel chiefs say the issues have been exasperated by a huge increase in demand for travel following two years of Covid-enforced disruption
Another Twitter use wrote: ‘Chaos at Manchester Airport this morning. Queue for security is outside in the drop off area. Then snaking inside before you are even near the gate for security.’
Another added: ‘Queueing since 4.30am this morning for getting through Manchester Airport security. What a nightmare.’
Meanwhile, at Birmingham Airport, one passenger wrote on Twitter: ‘Utterly ridiculous.
‘These are the queues to enter Birmingham Airport. Everyone will miss their flight.’
Another, sharing an picture of queues outside the terminal, added: ‘What the hell?’.
A spokesperson for Birmingham Airport told MailOnline: ‘Half of the 15,000 customers flying out of BHX today were booked to depart in our busy dawn peak, so we took the decision to run queues outside the terminal to avoid them getting tangled with check-in lines.
‘Queues were long but managed and moving. We thank customers for their patience.
‘As always, our message to departing customers is: Help us help you keep queues moving by removing any liquids, gels, pastes and electrical items from your bags before our security x-ray scanners.’
Manchester Airport has been contacted for a comment.
It comes as EasyJet yesterday announced it will be taking out seats on some of its fleet this summer, so that it can fly with fewer crew, due to difficulties with staff shortages.
The airline has been struggling to meet the rising demand for travel, as more Brits head abroad now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted.
In a bid to solve this, it is removing the back row from 60 of its A319 jets, which will limit the plane to 150 passengers instead of 156.
It means that three crew members can operate the cabin, instead of the usual four.
Civil Aviation Authority safety laws require three cabin crew to every 50 seats, irrespective of the number of passengers on the flight.
A company spokesperson said that the decision will ‘build additional resilience and flexibility’, The Telegraph reported.
Since Easter, multiple airlines have been struggling with crew shortages after many cut staff numbers during the peak of pandemic restrictions.
With demand back on the rise, this has left airlines unable to bring numbers back up quickly.
Airline bosses blamed the shortages on a slow security checking process overseen by the Government.
And cabin crew who were made redundant are less inclined to return to the workforce, having found new employment opportunities.
At the time, Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, accused airlines of not ‘gearing-up’ before the Easter break.
EasyJet bosses have said that covid was the made reason for staff absences over Easter, with April sickness rates rising to more than double the usual rate.
While easyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren, has not criticised the Government for staff shortages, the airline is believed to be waiting for 145 of its trained staff to have security checks approved.
Easyjet is removing the back row from 60 of its A319 jets, which will limit the plane to 150 passengers instead of 156
Removing the six seats in some of its A319 fleet could reduce the need for approximately 300 cabin crew, industry sources have suggested.
The easyJet spokesperson said the airline expects to be ‘back to near 2019 levels of flying’ this summer.
Before the pandemic, it had around 300,000 passengers each day during peak travel season.
Julia Lo Bue-Said from UK’s largest independent travel agent group, the Advantage Travel Partnership, said that the ‘dire labour shortage’ is one of the key issues impacting the aviation industry.
She told the BBC that it was a ‘travesty’ that easyJet is removing some seats to reduce the number of crew required per flight.
The airline said that its last six seats on each flight are usually taken by last minute bookings, so it does not expect their removal to impact holiday-makers who have planned their summer getaway ahead.
Last week the prospect of summer travel chaos intensified with the news that British Airways is cancelling 16,000 flights – and staff are threatening to strike over pay.
BA announced that flights on several popular routes are being slashed until October as it continues to struggle with staff shortages.
Chief executive Sean Doyle said an average of 60 flights daily – 16,000 in total – will have been axed between March and the autumn – about 10 per cent of all BA flights.
Around 75 per cent of those are short-haul flights to EU hotspots including Spain and Italy.
The Daily Mail also revealed last week that hundreds of BA check-in staff based at Heathrow Airport, where the carrier mostly operates from, are voting on whether to strike.
They took a 10 per cent pay cut during the pandemic and are demanding their full salaries are reinstated amid cost-of-living pressures and passenger numbers surging again after the pandemic.
Nadine Houghton, of trade union GMB, said it is ‘no wonder’ workers are considering industrial action. Both GMB and Unite unions were testing members’ appetite for strikes yesterday and union chiefs are poised to hold a formal, legally binding vote giving a mandate for a walkout if pay demands are not met. Strikes could begin by July and continue into August.
BA said the majority of staff accepted a ‘generous’ one-off lump sum equivalent to 10 per cent of their salary. But check-in staff rejected this because it meant taking a long-term pay cut.
BA has already cancelled thousands of flights in recent months due to staff shortages and an IT meltdown, and critics say it cut too many staff during the pandemic. Mr Doyle said the airline had had ‘significant losses over the last two years’ but ‘I think when you look at what we had to go through, the decisions made at the time were appropriate’.
BA’s owner International Airlines Group said ‘the problems we are having at BA we can see in other airlines’.
Budget carrier easyJet has also cancelled hundreds of flights in recent weeks, but the likes of Virgin Atlantic, Ryanair, Jet2 and TUI have not.
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