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Flight cancellations: Are UK travellers heading for a summer of misery?

For travellers, the past fortnight has brought a tidal wave of bad news.

Cancelled flights, proposed rail strikes and record-breaking petrol prices have thrown people’s plans into disarray – and now the peak summer holiday season and the long school break are hovering on the horizon.

After more than two years of Covid restrictions, this should be a summer of fun.

But are we now heading into a summer of misery?

We take a look at where things stand for planes and trains over the weeks ahead.

The UK air travel industry has just faced what is arguably its biggest test since coronavirus rules were lifted and it is fair to say, it has been a bumpy ride.

Over the Jubilee bank holiday, which coincided with many schools’ half-term breaks, 750 flights out of the UK were cancelled, according to aviation data firm Cirium. Around 466 return flights were axed.

Although cancellations made up a small percentage of total flights, many passengers were only informed at short notice and faced long queues to check-in bags and get through security.

For travellers, the past fortnight has brought a tidal wave of bad news.

Cancelled flights, proposed rail strikes and record-breaking petrol prices have thrown people’s plans into disarray – and now the peak summer holiday season and the long school break are hovering on the horizon.

After more than two years of Covid restrictions, this should be a summer of fun.

But are we now heading into a summer of misery?

We take a look at where things stand for planes and trains over the weeks ahead.

Planes

The UK air travel industry has just faced what is arguably its biggest test since coronavirus rules were lifted and it is fair to say, it has been a bumpy ride.

Over the Jubilee bank holiday, which coincided with many schools’ half-term breaks, 750 flights out of the UK were cancelled, according to aviation data firm Cirium. Around 466 return flights were axed.

Although cancellations made up a small percentage of total flights, many passengers were only informed at short notice and faced long queues to check-in bags and get through security.

Add to that the threat of strike action. British Airways workers have voted in favour of supporting industrial action, in a ballot conducted by the Unite union, while Ryanair is facing walkouts by staff in parts of Europe.

Jess Baker has been put off travelling abroad this summer after a recent “nightmare” 18-hour journey home from Iceland.

She, her husband Shaun and their two children had their EasyJet flight into Luton cancelled on Monday.

They were given the option to travel home on Thursday but needed to get back sooner so paid £1,000 to fly into Glasgow with Icelandair. They shelled out an additional £340 to hire a car to drive down to Luton to collect their own vehicle.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” says Ms Baker. “We quickly decided that we’ll go camping here instead. It’s not worth the hassle all over again.”

Others may have the same idea. Sykes Holiday Cottages says it has seen a 22% rise in bookings in the past two weeks compared to the same period last year.

Chief executive Graham Donoghue says it is “at least in part due to widespread reports of overseas travel disruption”.

“Travellers simply don’t want to have to tackle airports and take the risk that their family holidays could be cancelled,” he says.

Since cutting staff, airlines, airports and the companies that provide baggage handling have been recruiting but because new workers have to pass security checks, it takes time.

Heathrow airport’s boss John Holland-Kaye recently told the Financial Times it could take up to 18 months for the aviation sector to “fully recover capacity”.

Aviation consultant Chris Tarry tells the BBC the situation should improve as more staff are security cleared, but he warns there are “unlikely to be enough workers in certain areas given wages and working conditions”.

And airports “only work if all of the elements are in place”, he says.

Credits: Getty Image, https://www.bbc.com/

Rail strikes and flight cancellations: Are UK travellers heading for a summer of misery?

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