Anguished families desperate for a half-term getaway found their hopes in tatters owing to the continuing carnage at the country’s airports. And holidaymakers faced a grim warning of “a summer of chaos” if the industry failed to act now.
Union Unite which represents tens of thousands of aviation workers said holidaymakers were paying the price for “chronic staff shortages” caused by job cuts during the pandemic. It claimed unless airline and airport bosses resolved the crisis ahead of July, the “chaos will last the entire summer season, ”the Mirror reports.
General secretary Sharon Graham said: “During the pandemic, when airline operators and others in aviation slashed jobs to boost corporate profits, we warned this corporate greed would cause chaos in the industry. . Aviation chiefs need to come clean with the public. This is a crisis of their making.
“We are determined that workers will not pay for this crisis. Current pay and conditions in the industry are so poor that workers are voting with their feet. It can only be resolved by offering higher wages and better working conditions for staff. Unite is utterly determined to fight for that. ”
The stark warning came as budget airline easyJet and the UK’s biggest tour operator TUI faced flight disruption and British Airways advised passengers not only to drop baggage a day before their flight but also to shell out for an overnight stay close to the airport.
Travelers at Manchester, Bristol, Gatwick and Stansted airports were the hardest hit and passengers also found shops and cafes stripped bare of food and drink following a hectic weekend. One fed up passenger tweeted: “It’s chaos @manairport. Sat on the floor and all the food places are either shut or hours of a wait Happy #holiday everyone We have at least a 3 hour delay. ”
There were similar scenes at London’s Stansted airport where a TUI holiday flight to Cyprus was canceled leaving families mopping up children’s tears as they were excitedly about to board. Anna Saunders, 41, splashed out £ 5,200 for a week’s getaway to Paphos last October with her husband Matthew, 44, and two children Eva aged 13 and 10-year-old Jack.
The property manager of Bedfordshire said “My kids were heartbroken. Explaining to a child that they’re not going on holiday after going through the airport is pretty tough. To not tell us the flight was canceled until we got to the airport is just disgusting . ””
Gatwick’s South Terminal also struggled amid delays for those traveling with budget airline Vueling and a Wizz Air cancellation, although pressure had eased at North Terminal. Consumer watchdog Which? and airlines.
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “There really can be no excuse for a repeat of these failings this summer. Unacceptably long queues and widespread chaos at airports are causing huge amounts of stress to those who have planned to get away this half- term and bank holiday weekend.
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“The situation requires an immediate response and the Government must work with airlines and airports to ensure they have the resources and capacity to put an end to the last-minute flight cancellations and disruption we are seeing.”
Manchester Airport said in a statement that airlines and ground handlers were experiencing “challenges” that were “leading to delays at check-in and baggage reclaim for some passengers”. It added: “This is not the experience we want passengers to have at Manchester Airport and we are sorry to hear customers have faced disruption. ”
Bristol airport said it had “fallen short” but added it was “working hard to ensure all customers have a smooth and easy journey through the terminal”. Gatwick airport said there had been some difficulties but “not to the extent of the disruption that has been reported ”.
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