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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

As the holidays approach EasyJet has canceled hundreds of half-term flights from Gatwick

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EasyJet has canceled nearly 200 flights from London Gatwick for the half-term vacation, upsetting the plans of tens of thousands of holidaymakers during the busiest period for air travel since the epidemic.

The last-minute cancellations came a day after the airline, Britain’s largest by passenger counts, experienced IT issues that prevented another 200 flights from taking off, and followed cancellations earlier in the day at London Gatwick during the morning peak.

Friday was the biggest day at British airports since the outbreak began, as the vast majority of schools in England and Wales began their half-term break. Long lines formed for cross-Channel ferries at Dover, and drivers throughout the country were cautioned to expect traffic congestion.

EasyJet’s decision to cancel around 240 flights over ten days was driven by a number of operational concerns, according to a spokesman. “We have decided to make advance cancellations of roughly 24 Gatwick flights per day commencing tomorrow, May 28th, until June 6th,” she stated.

“We are very sorry for the late notice of some of these cancellations and inconvenience caused for customers booked on these flights however we believe this is necessary to provide reliable services over this busy period. Customers are being informed from today and provided with the option to rebook their flight or receive a refund and can apply for compensation in line with regulations.”

Meanwhile, the RAC has issued a traffic warning for motorways and important A-roads, estimating that 17.9 million leisure trips will be taken by vehicle between Friday and Sunday, with Saturday being the busiest day.

“Major routes to holiday locations will begin to fill up,” its spokesperson Rod Dennis warned. By properly organizing their trips, drivers can avoid the worst of the lines. It’s always better to have an early start or, if that’s not possible, drive at dusk.”

At the start of the half-term break, passengers traveling to Europe via Dover – including thousands of Liverpool fans flying to Paris for the Champions League final on Saturday night – faced huge lines at the port.

The Port of Dover warned travelers to bring food and water since the week ahead will be “very busy.” Customers on Irish Ferries could expect up to three-hour delays at port security and check-in, while P&O Ferries warned of heavy traffic at border control. Passengers who miss a sailing will usually be accommodated on the next available service.

According to statistics from the researchers Cirium, around 8,000 planes will depart from UK airports this weekend, with Friday witnessing the greatest number of planned departures since March 2020.

Despite the higher passenger numbers as a result of Thursday’s cancellation confusion, Britain’s airports insisted they were able to meet the demand.

Early check-in lines had cleared by mid-morning at Gatwick, which was preparing for more than 800 flights and 120,000 passengers on Friday, the most since March 2020.

Manchester Airport, which has had some delays, said it was expecting a busy weekend, but that security lines, which had been as long as an hour early on Friday, were moving rapidly now. After hiring 200 new security personnel in the previous month, the airport is looking to hire hundreds more.

Unions have warned that delays are expected to continue during half-term and may worsen throughout the summer vacation.

Airlines and airports were criticized by Unite, which represents tens of thousands of aviation workers, for laying off employees and paying poor salaries during the pandemic.

Its general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “We warned this corporate greed would cause chaos in the industry. The aftermath of mass sackings is now chronic staff shortages across the board. Current pay and conditions in the industry are so poor that workers are voting with their feet.”

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