Thousands of British holidaymakers again faced chaos again at UK airports today as Heathrow ordered to cancel 10 per cent of their flights to cope with the baggage backlog – leaving 15,000 passengers stranded.
Passengers travel plans have been thrown into disarray at the eleventh hour following a week of flight cancellations as the ongoing staffing crisis continues to cause mayhem at Britain’s travel hubs.
90 flights are expected to be affected after airlines flying from Terminals 2 and 3 at Heathrow were asked to scale back flights.
Virgin Atlantic has cancelled at least three long-haul flights to destinations including New York and Los Angeles, while British Airways has been forced to make ‘a small number of cancellations’, the Independent reports.
Three flights BA had planned to Toulouse in France have been grounded alongside two of the four Marseille departures.
Meanwhile, EasyJet said it is ‘proactively consolidating a number of flights’ at airports affected by ‘operational issues’, such as London Gatwick and Amsterdam’s Schiphol.
The airline expects its capacity between April and June to be 87 per cent of 2019 levels – rising to 90 per cent during the following three months.
It stated there will be a ‘cost impact’ from disruption and the amount of money it spends to operate each seat per kilometre excluding fuel will ‘exceed’ previous guidance.
HEATHROW AIRPORT: passengers continue to face chaos at UK airports, including at Heathrow, where hundreds of bags are mounting up outside Terminal 2
HEATHROW AIPPORT: Passengers continue to face chaos at UK airports, including at Heathrow, where hundreds of bags have been seen mounting up outside Terminal 2
BRISTOL AIRPORT: Thousands of British holidaymakers again faced chaos again at UK airports today as Heathrow ordered to cancel 10 per cent of their flights to cope with the baggage backlog – leaving 15,000 passengers stranded
BRISTOL AIRPORT: EasyJet said it is ‘proactively consolidating a number of flights’ at airports affected by ‘operational issues’, such as London Gatwick and Amsterdam’s Schiphol
MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Today holidaymakers are facing even more travel chaos – with exceptionally lengthy queues at Bristol, Manchester and Heathrow Airport at 4am this morning
HEATHROW AIRPORT: Chiefs blaming a ‘technical glitch’ in the baggage system – which they claimed had been fixed
HEATHROW AIRPORT: A spokesperson yesterday said that while there is ‘ongoing disruption’ caused by the issue, no additional baggage was being delayed and the airport is doing its best to ensure all passengers flying today do take their luggage with them
BRISTOL AIRPORT: Virgin Atlantic has cancelled at least three long-haul flights to destinations including New York and Los Angeles , while British Airways has been forced to make ‘a small number of cancellations’
Now strikes threaten HOLIDAYS: Gatwick Express cancels ALL trains during TfL and rail walkouts next week
The holiday plans of Britons were threatened today after Gatwick Express cancelled all trains on three days next week and Eurostar axed dozens of services, as last-minute crunch talks continued with Network Rail.
Rail union leaders accused Grant Shapps of ‘bully boy tactics’ after he warned they are putting their jobs at risk by striking next Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – and Downing Street said there was ‘still time’ to stop the action.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union has demanded inflation-tied pay rises for workers and a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies as part of a national drive to save more than £2bn across Britain’s railway network.
Underpinning the calls for industrial action are also claims that train operators have endured years of pay freezes and changes to their terms and conditions.
The militant union also claims Network Rail plans to cut jobs and reduce spending –with an impact on safety. But Network Rail and the Government have accused the union of an unwillingness to modernise work practices.
It comes as Eurostar became the latest operator to cancel trains with a total of 41 axed to and from the Continent between next Tuesday and Saturday – putting breaks to France, Belgium and the Netherlands at risk. The firm said it was seeing ‘unprecedented contact levels across phone, email and social channels’ after its announcement.
Gatwick Express trains will also not run on strike days – but there will be limited Southern and Thameslink services running between London Victoria or London Bridge and Brighton, which will call at the airport in West Sussex.
It added: ‘We believe that these capacity/cost impacts are a one-off this summer as we would expect all parties to build greater resilience in time for 2023 peak periods.’
The reason for the ongoing chaos has been due to a aviation staffing crisis – recruiting for roles such as security staff, ground handlers and check-in staff which is seeing passengers advised to arrive much earlier than normal for their flights because they are facing long queues.
While many businesses in the aviation sector are struggling to rehire staff after many were let go during the pandemic due to a collapse in demand thanks to successive lockdowns, high levels of staff sickness for those who are still employed is also having an impact.
A Heathrow spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We apologise unreservedly for the disruption passengers have faced over the course of this weekend.
‘The technical issues affecting baggage systems have led to us making the decision to request airlines operating in Terminals 2 and 3 to consolidate their schedules on Monday 20th June. This will enable us to minimise ongoing impact and we ask that all passengers check with their airlines for the latest information.’
Today holidaymakers are facing even more travel chaos – with exceptionally lengthy queues at Bristol, Manchester and Heathrow Airport at 4am this morning.
One ‘stressed out’ passenger who was queuing at Manchester took to Twitter and said: ‘I’ve been queuing for an hour and I’m not even at security… stress levels are through the roof!’
The chaotic scenes came after one pilot was spotted loading luggage on to a plane, helping ground crew to load up to the plane with baggage ahead of an Edelweiss flight from Edinburgh airport.
The issue started on Friday with Heathrow chiefs blaming a ‘technical glitch’ in the luggage system. But it has sparked a huge baggage backlog which has been described a ‘carpet of luggage’.
Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers have reportedly been waiting up to three hours to retrieve their baggage today after flying into Heathrow.
A spokesperson for the west London airport said that there is ‘ongoing disruption’ from Friday’s glitch. But they said no additional baggage was being delayed.
They also said the airport was doing its best to ensure all passengers flying today can take their luggage with them – and reiterated that baggage is the responsibility of airlines and not the airport itself.
EDINBURGH AIRPORT: A diligent airline pilot has been spotted loading luggage on to a plane, as baggage chaos continues to hit airports across the UK. Video shows the conscientious captain down on the tarmac helping ground crew to load up to the cargo hold ahead of an Eldeweiss flight
Simon Clarke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, appeared on Sky News with Kay Burley this morning and said it’s ‘sensible’ that airports are ‘revising their schedules’ because it will prevent a repeat of the ‘terrible scenes’ passengers have been experiencing.
He added: ‘What we’re seeing here is a result of the airline industry having massively contracted during the pandemic and now it’s facing this surge of pent-up demand as things stand back up.
‘It isn’t resourced and manned for that challenge and that’s why I think it is sensible that we’re starting to see some of the airports revising their schedules for the summer season ahead.
‘Frankly, we can’t have a repeat of the scenes we’ve had in some of our airports in recent weeks.
HEATHROW AIRPORT: Heathrow was seen to be chaotic with long queues at the departure counters on Sunday and heaps of luggage piled up pending collection
STANSTED AIRPORT: Passengers have encountered long delays to get to security
‘The transport secretary and ministers have been working very closely with the airline industry to try and get it into a more sensible place because they are offering flights they simply can’t honour and that is simply terrible for passengers.’
Mr Clarke also addressed the baggage crisis happening at Heathrow and said the ongoing issues are due to the Covid pandemic which led to the airline industry ‘slimming down’ their staff and operations.
He added: ‘This is not a result of Brexit, what I would say is it’s an industry that massively slimmed down and understandably so – at a time when flying was impossible for a year and a half.
‘It’s now massively expanded its operations and the pressure is enormous and it hasn’t managed to align the two.
‘We will do our part as government to try and make sure our side of things is right from issues like passports to border control.
‘We’re pouring resources into this and making sure the process is as robust as it can be. The airlines need to do their part and make sure the flights they’re offering can indeed be honoured.
Yesterday huge queues built up at Stansted airport and some passengers described the scenes of people sleeping in the airport overnight as looking ‘like a shootout’.
Labour shadow minister David Lammy was also caught up in the chaos yesterday morning – tweeting to his more than 780,000 followers to highlight the issue.
Taking a swipe at the Government, he wrote: ‘Another morning, another horrid queue at airport security! This time at Stansted. Well done Boris Johnson. Top marks Priti Patel. Welcome to #BacklogBritain’.