Fear of Easter travel chaos grows as more flights are canceled and plans to boost sea ferry services are disrupted. Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps has warned travel networks will be “extremely busy” over the weekend at banks.
On Wednesday, British Airways canceled at least 53 scheduled domestic or European flights to and from Heathrow, while EasyJet canceled 23 flights to Gatwick. Hundreds of flights have been canceled in the UK in the past few days.
The Easter escape in Kent will likely be delayed as another P&O Ferries ship has been captured. This casts doubt on the company’s proposal to resume sailing between Dover and Calais this week.
Drivers are being warned in anticipation of large queues on major UK roads. RAC estimates that about 21.5 million recreational trips will be made by car between Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Some gas stations have dried up in protest of oil deposits by environmental activists. Rail passengers have also been warned of Easter delays as Network Rail implements 530 engineering projects with a total value of £83m.
This includes the four-day closure of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes due to the renewal of the existing line and HS2 business since Good Friday. P&O Ferries suspended most of its voyage after releasing nearly 800 undisclosed sailors on March 17 and replacing them with low-cost agency staff.
It plans to resume use of its ships Pride Of Kent and Spirit Of Britain on the Dover Calais Route this week, pending regulatory approval. But the Navy and Coast Guard arrested Britain’s Spirit after it revealed “a number of flaws”.
Kent Pride has been in custody since March 28. This greatly reduced the ability of trucks and tourists to cross the canal, resulting in road closures in the port of Dover.
Shapps told BBC Radio 4 today: “I think this weekend is going to be very busy on our roads, and probably in our ports, especially in Dover, where P&O has shamefully fired all of its staff and then tried to manage the ships. It wouldn’t be safe to replace staff with a high profile. Low pay with low pay, they’ve been trying to get jobs quickly and we don’t know that none of their ships are running at the moment. So I expect there will be a delay without P&O thanks.”
P&O Ferries resumed passenger transport between Scotland and Northern Ireland on Monday, while full traffic between Hull and Rotterdam resumed on Wednesday. The difficulty of recruiting new staff and the time spent on security screening procedures, in addition to the increased level of illnesses linked to the Corona virus, are hampering the cancellation of flights and long queues at airports such as Birmingham, Heathrow and Manchester.
British Airways decided last month to scale back the schedule until the end of May to avoid canceling short-haul flights. It focuses on multi-day itineraries, which means travelers can offer alternative departures on the same day they book.
EasyJet said the cancellation was made “in advance to allow customers to download alternative flights”. CEO Johan Lundgren said Tuesday that he was meeting 94% of his planned schedule.
Flight data company Cirium said 9,212 flights from 1.6 million airports to the UK were scheduled between Good Friday and Easter Monday. The number of trips made up 78% of the total for Easter 2019, before the virus crisis hit travel.
The busiest day will be Good Friday, when 2,430 flights are scheduled.
“I am very concerned that the operators – I’m talking about airlines, airports and ports – are making sure they are back in power and back quickly,” Shapps said. “They’ve lost a lot of people during the pandemic.
“We have been warning them for a long time that they need to get ready and I am very careful to make sure that they are doing everything they can to deal with what I understand will be and always will be, in fact, the Easter holiday.” “A very busy weekend in our transportation system” .
I’m Wayne Wickman, a professional journalist and author for Today Times Live. My specialty is covering global news and current events, offering readers a unique perspective on the world’s most pressing issues. I’m passionate about storytelling and helping people stay informed on the goings-on of our planet.