Easter chaos with airport delays and roads rammed as families face travel misery

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Families planning Easter getaways face misery next weekend – with hundreds of flights being cancelled each day and more than 27 million drives set to bring roads to a standstill.

Airlines are struggling to cope with staff sickness and shortages, with more than 100 flights being cancelled every day by easyJet and British Airways.

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Rail journeys are also likely to be trying, with networks planning a bumper weekend of engineering works, with more than 500 projects planned.

It comes amid scenes of chaos at Manchester Airport, which officials warn will continue for several weeks.

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Yesterday Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said problems are likely to continue for two months.

The beleaguered airport's managing director Karen Smart has resigned amid the chaos.

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Easter chaos with airport delays and roads rammed as families face travel misery

Long queues at Manchester Airport this morning as families start making their Easter getaway ( Image: SWNS)

The boss of Manchester Airport's owner has admitted the airport does not have enough staff.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Manchester Airports Group, wrote: “The simple fact is that we don't currently have the number of staff we need to provide the level of service that our passengers deserve.

“Despite our efforts since last autumn, the tight labour market around the airport has meant we have just not been able to hire people quickly enough to establish a full-strength team.

“Practically, staff shortages mean that we cannot open all the security lanes we need and, at times, this results in longer queues than we want to see.

“While we still expect most passengers to get through in less than 30-40 minutes, there will be times over the next few months when waiting times will rise to between 60 and 90 minutes.”

Easter chaos with airport delays and roads rammed as families face travel misery

Manchester Airport has been beset with problems in recent days with warnings of more to come ( Image: Manchester Evening News)

This morning the Civil Aviation Authority's chief executive, Richard Moriarty, wrote to airlines to remind them of their legal obligations to consumers and express “concerns” about the recent experiences of travellers.

“Where capacity is unavoidably restricted, we expect this co-operative planning to identify problems sufficiently in advance so as to allow pre-emptive cancellations,” he said.

Things are looking equally difficult on the nation's roads.

The AA estimates that more than 27.6 million car journeys are planned between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Around 13.6 million are expected on Good Friday alone, leading to fears of tailbacks on popular tourist routes.

Easter chaos with airport delays and roads rammed as families face travel misery

Airport bosses have said sickness and staff shortages are to blame ( Image: REX/Shutterstock)

AA spokesman Tony Rich said: “The Easter holidays look set to give British tourism a much-needed boost as people cut back on overseas travel.

“With more than 27.6 million trips planned over the bank holiday weekend, we can expect significant congestion across the UK as people flock to coastal resorts and holiday homes.”

An AA survey of 14,000 drivers indicated that 53 per cent will use their car to go on holiday in the UK this year.

About 20 per cent will not go on holiday in 2022 due to financial pressures.

Drivers making long-distance trips will be particularly susceptible to high fuel prices.

Easter chaos with airport delays and roads rammed as families face travel misery

More than 27 million car journeys during the Easter weekend will bring roads to a standstill, it is feared ( Image: UkNewsinPictures)

Latest Government figures show the average price of petrol at UK forecourts on Monday was 161.9p per litre, while diesel cost 176.0p per litre.

Rail passengers are being warned of disruption as Network Rail carries out 530 engineering projects costing a total of £83 million.

This includes a closure of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes between Good Friday and Easter Monday due to upgrades of the existing line and HS2 work.

Cross-Channel ferries will also be busy with many people heading off on foreign trips or families returning at the end of the two-week Easter school holidays.

Roads in Kent have been hit by long queues in recent days due to a shortage of ferries caused by the suspension of sailings by P&O Ferries after it sacked nearly 800 seafarers without notice.

Easter chaos with airport delays and roads rammed as families face travel misery

Passengers facing a difficult start to their Easter break this morning ( Image: SWNS)

The operator said it plans to resume operations on the Dover-Calais route next week pending regulatory approval.

Meanwhile, new figures show the UK's tourism industry is beginning to recover after being hit hard by travel restrictions introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trade association UKinbound, which represents more than 300 businesses dealing with tourists visiting the UK, said 39% of its members are reporting that international bookings and visitor numbers for between April and June are expected to be the same or higher than pre-pandemic.

But some 61% of firms expect demand to be lower, indicating how much of the sector is continuing to struggle.

UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said: “It's fantastic to see international travellers returning to the UK and we're delighted to see the strongest growth from our number one market, the USA.

“The ending of all UK travel restrictions has given international consumers the confidence to begin travelling here again.

“Compared with 2020 and 2021, business is booming, but we're significantly lagging behind 2019 prosperity and our competitors.”

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