Chaotic scenes as staff shortages and Covid illness hit Easter getaway

Holidaymakers attempting to get away on Easter breaks over the weekend faced chaotic scenes at airports and the port of Dover as staff shortages and the shutdown of P&O Ferries after the sacking of 800 seafarers caused major disruption.

EasyJet reportedly cancelled 100 flights today (Monday), including 62 from the UK, after further weekend cancellations, blaming higher than usual numbers of staff absent due to Covid.

Flights have also been cut by British Airways.

Manchester airport issued an apology and admitted passengers’ experiences fell “below the standard we aim to provide”.

Travellers at the airport have faced long queues for check-in and security over the past month, with some missing flights at the start of the Easter school holidays.

An airport spokesperson said: “Our whole industry is facing staff shortages and recruitment challenges at present, after the most damaging two years in its history.

“The removal of all travel restrictions after two years, coupled with the start of the summer travel season, has seen a rapid increase in passenger numbers, which is putting an enormous strain on our operation.”

Passengers also faced delays at Heathrow, which said the disruption was due to Covid documentation checks required by destination countries and higher numbers of passengers.

But travellers also reported problems due to staff shortages and e-gate passport checkpoints.

A spokesperson for the London airport said: “Our teams are supporting our airline partners to get passengers away on their journeys as quickly as possible and we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.”

An EasyJet spokesperson said on Sunday: “As a result of the current high rates of Covid infections across Europe, like all businesses, easyJet is experiencing higher than usual levels of employee sickness.

“Unfortunately it has been necessary to make some additional cancellations for today and tomorrow. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Affected passengers had been contacted and could rebook on alternative flights or receive a voucher or refund.

Disruption at Dover led to queues of up to nine ours on Saturday as the suspension of P&O Ferries services was compounded by two DFDS vessels being taken out of service. The ferries are expected to be back in service by Tuesday.

Traffic flows improved later over the weekend as the surge in demand also saw Eurotunnel report the “busiest sustained period of traffic” since before the pandemic.


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