Hundreds face canceled flights as union leader warns travel chaos at Leeds Bradford Airport ‘could get worse before it gets better’
Airlines across the UK have been forced to cancel flights this week as staff shortages, air traffic control restrictions and airport processing delays begin to take their toll.
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It has left many passengers out of pocket and without their mid-term holidays, with union leaders warning the situation could get worse.
Holidaymakers have faced waves of flight cancellations and long queues at airports such as Leeds Bradford, Heathrow and Manchester in recent months and on Tuesday evening Transport Secretary Grant Shapps demanded a meeting with aviation bosses to find out “what was wrong”. ‘.
But Prospect union deputy general secretary Garry Graham, which represents thousands of workers in the aviation industry, hit back at the government for ignoring the warnings.
“Unions have repeatedly warned government and aviation employers that downsizing during the crisis will lead to problems with post-pandemic ramp-up,” he said.
“The government highlights the furlough scheme but ignores that it ended long before the majority of international travel restrictions ended. We are now seeing staff shortages in the industry, with a huge reliance on overtime to get by on a day-to-day basis.”
Britain’s biggest holiday company TUI said on Tuesday it had canceled nearly 200 flights by the end of next month. While at least 31 easyJet flights were axed at Gatwick on Tuesday.
In total, some 291 departures from major UK airports have been canceled in the past seven days, according to aeronautical data firm Cirium.
With summer fast approaching and July expected to bring its usual influx of travellers, Prospect fears the situation will only get worse.
“In many areas, like air traffic control, overtime is just a temporary band-aid. So things could get worse this summer before they get better.” Mr. Graham added.
Travelers leaving Leeds Bradford Airport have lined up outside the terminal for the past few weeks as security staff scrambled to get people through.
“Avoid Leeds-Bradford at all costs, it’s more like a cow market than an airport.” tweeted a particularly frustrated flier.
LBA recommends that passengers:
Arrive early – Passengers are advised to arrive at the airport three hours before their flight departure time.
Prepare your hand luggage – Remove all large electronics, carry liquids and gels under 100ml in a 1 liter zip lock bag.
Empty your pockets – Remove all items from pockets, remove jackets or coats and remove boots or high-heeled shoes and place them and contents of pockets in x-ray machines.