Manchester Airport chaos: Queues stretch outside terminal – as delays continue at Birmingham Airport
Furious holidaymakers say Manchester Airport has descended into ‘pure chaos’ today, with queues so long they are even stretching outside the terminal building.
Astonishing pictures appear to show airline passengers queueing in the underfloor car park of the airport outside Terminal 1 early this morning.
Inside the terminal, pictures show huge queues at check-in and at baggage enquiries – where passengers usually go to report damaged or missing luggage.
Some passengers say they have had to temporarily abandon their luggage at the airport due to delays, with pictures showing rows of unattended luggage by the conveyor belt.
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‘Shambolic’ disruption is also said to have continued at Birmingham Airport this morning. Passengers have reported 90 minute queues for security.
Others say they say passengers plucked out of the queues to be fast-tracked in order to stop them from missing their flights.
It comes as Britons have been told to brace for a summer of airport chaos as airlines struggle with low staff numbers – while emergency plans are drawn up to avoid massive passport queues for the Easter getaway.
Ministers have been accused of overseeing ‘cripplingly slow’ security checks for new airline staff, with British Airways having to cancel 64 domestic and European flights from Heathrow on Monday alone.
The increase in demand has come as airlines have been hit with staffing shortages, though, with operators citing difficulties in finding recruits, security red tape and Covid absences, The Times reports.
Meanwhile, border guards are also now gearing up for ‘significant problems’ as millions of holidaymakers head abroad, with fears passport queues could last hours as emergency plans are drawn up for the Easter weekend.
Good Friday is set to be the busiest day of Easter with 2,430 flights leaving the UK. Flight data specialists Cirium show 9,212 will depart over the bank holiday weekend, 78 per cent of the total in pre-pandemic 2019.
Astonishing pictures appear to show airline passengers queueing in the underfloor car park of the airport outside Terminal 1 early this morning
Inside the terminal, pictures show huge queues at check-in and at baggage enquiries – where passengers usually go to report damaged or missing luggage
Some passengers say they have had to temporarily abandon their luggage at the airport due to delays, with pictures showing rows of unattended luggage by the conveyor belt
‘Shambolic’ disruption is also said to have continued at Birmingham Airport this morning. Passengers have reported 90 minute queues for security
But airlines are concerned that failure to address the current issues will lead to travel chaos extending into the summer, with some families having already endured three-hour queues to get through security at some UK airports.
One industry figure told The Times: ‘The process is cripplingly slow, Aviation was one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic, suffered from a lack of targeted support, and is now facing a summer disrupted by the government being slow in vetting staff.’
Meanwhile, Kully Sandhu, the managing director of Aviation Recruitment Network Limited, whose firm recruits for major firms including Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme he currently had more than 300 live vacancies on his site.
Asked how long it would take for airports to get the staff they need, he replied: ‘My personal opinion, it is going to take at least the next 12 months for the industry vacancy-wise to settle down.;
Mr Sandhu said Brexit ‘had not helped’ the situation, as recruiters were no longer able to fill vacancies with staff from the EU.
However he said airports should not cut back on their current checks on staff in order to fast-track new employees.
Asked if the security checks on new staff should be reduced or dropped, he said: ‘No, because they work. The industry works to a set of standards, that comes from the Department of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority.
‘Each airport has the option to scale their checks slightly higher if they want to, each company that operates within the airport can adapt the checks.
‘But the fundamental basics are the same, five years of background checks to cover an individual’s background history, whether they’ve been employed, in education, any bouts of any kind of benefits, any bouts of period abroad. All these need to be identified.’
Officials have accused ministers of failing to provide adequate resources to meet the increased demand as tens of thousands of potential employees await security clearance – including 12,000 at Heathrow alone.
Vetting procedures normally take between 14 and 15 weeks, but it is understood to now be taking up to six months to screen new staff.
Lucy Moreton of the Immigration Service Union said backroom staff were being offered bonuses to man desks at Heathrow.
The volunteers, who usually carry out checks on prohibited items, will be pushed to the front lines at airports and ports to prevent chaos. Miss Moreton said border forces were already stretched due to virus absences and the Channel migrant crisis.
‘There’s the potential for significant problems at the tail-end of this week and at the weekend and planning has already started,’ she added.
‘We’re bringing staff down from Scotland and Northern Ireland to Heathrow.
‘They get expenses and overtime and they’re being offered a cash bonus for each shift they cover at Heathrow.
‘Some passengers will sail through, but others could be looking at several hours in a queue. It won’t be chaos universally but there will be patches.’
Manchester and Birmingham Airport have been contacted for a comment.
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RAC warns Easter weekend getaway will be the busiest in EIGHT years with 21.5 million journeys planned – as it urges drivers to travel AFTER 7.30pm
Motorists face a week of travel chaos with the Easter weekend getaway predicted to be the busiest in eight years.
The RAC warned of motorway gridlocks as a record 21.5 million drivers prepare to take to the roads ahead of the four-day weekend, the most since the organisation began tracking motorists’ Easter plans in 2014.
It also urged drivers to try and and travel after 7.30pm to avoid congestion.
RAC research showed Good Friday is set to be the busiest, with 4.62 million trips planned, followed by Easter Monday, when just under 4 million drivers are expected to be out and about.
A further 7.2 million will travel on Saturday and Sunday, with another 5.6 million not yet decided on which day they will set off.
Inrix, the traffic information supplier, highlighted several likely congestion hotspots.
The congestion hotspots include: The M6 north between Junction 26 (Orrell Interchange, Greater Manchester) and Junction 36 (the Lake District), The M25 clockwise from Junction 8 (Reigate Hill Interchange, Surrey) to Junction 16 (Denham Interchange, Buckinghamshire) and The A303 near Stonehenge, Wiltshire.
Motorists wanting to avoid as much congestion as possible are advised to start their journeys before 9am or delay their journeys until after 7.30pm.
More than 500 engineering works are taking place amid strikes on vast swathes of northern rail routes. It will create mayhem for the thousands of football fans travelling to London for the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley.
It comes as severe disruption on roads in Kent leading to cross-Channel services looks set to continue for days.
The bottlenecks have been caused by soaring numbers of drivers looking to reach the Continent for Easter getaways and the suspension of P&O Ferries services.
P&O Ferries ships will not sail from Dover to Calais until at least Thursday, with rival carriers struggling to soak up the extra demand.
Europe-bound motorists have reported being stuck in traffic for six hours on Kent roads, and a 20-mile stretch of the M20 has been closed to store more than 4,000 lorries.
To make matters worse, getaways will be the most expensive on record due to sky-high fuel prices.
Latest Government figures show the average cost of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts on April 4 was 161.9p, with diesel at 176.0p.
There could also be diesel or petrol shortages due to protesting eco-warriors blocking off fuel terminals, slowing down deliveries.
RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: ‘After two years of relatively quiet Easter bank holidays on the roads, our research suggests a return to traffic levels that are much more typical of this time of year.
‘It’s very possible this weekend could turn out to be one of the busiest for leisure journeys for many years.
‘Add in the impact of disruption on the rail network and one of the biggest fixtures of the sporting calendar taking place this weekend, and you have all the ingredients needed for problems on the roads.
‘Traffic volumes will likely be even higher if some warm spring sunshine makes an appearance.’
Mr Dennis urged drivers to make sure vehicles are prepared for getaway trips. Pictured: Traffic beginning to build up on April 8. Drivers have been warned to expect long delays this Easter weekend
Mr Dennis urged drivers to make sure vehicles are prepared for getaway trips.
‘This is even more important for anyone travelling longer distances than they have for several months,’ he said.
‘A breakdown is much less likely if a car’s oil and coolant levels, as well as tyre pressure and tread depth, have all been checked before setting out.’