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British Airways asks passengers to rebook flights after Heathrow cap

British Airways has today started contacting passengers asking them to reschedule their flights amid a row between Heathrow and airlines over the airport’s passenger cap.

Bosses at the west London travel hub sparked fury from travel chiefs on Tuesday after announcing an immediate 100,000 daily passenger limit – a move which will impact tens of thousands of travellers in the coming weeks.

Airport chiefs ordered UK airlines to, ‘stop selling summer tickets to limit the impact on passengers’ because Heathrow is already expecting an average of 104,000 daily outbound passengers in the coming months. 

Following Heathrow’s announcement, carriers have reportedly been in intense discussions with the airport and flight schedulers in an attempt to cut capacity by up to 15 per cent at Terminals 3 and 5.

And BA has now started to contact passengers due to fly before July 25 if they are able to reschedule their flight. Industry insiders have suggested the company is filleting out flights in order to more easily make short-notice cancellations.

However MailOnline understands the UK flag carrier has made a ‘small number’ of short-haul and domestic cancellations over the next two weeks to fit in with Heathrow’s passenger cap. BA says it has moved passengers either onto trains or similar flights from Heathrow or City airports. 

Today travel expert Paul Charles, who runs travel consultancy the PC Agency, shared an email from BA to customers asking passengers travelling in the next fortnight if they would like to reschedule their flights for free.

BA said passengers could change their flights to another BA operated flight to any date within the next 12 months, subject to availability.

Commenting on the email, in a post on Twitter, Mr Charles wrote: ‘I said it would be a summer of stress. BA among airlines operating from Heathrow now asking those travelling before 25th July to consider changing flights, so enabling them to more easily choose which flights to cancel at short notice.’

Meanwhile Emirates has today announced that it will ignore an order from Heathrow Airport for it to cancel flights to comply with a cap on passenger numbers, describing it as ‘entirely unreasonable’.

Virgin Atlantic also criticised Heathrow’s actions and claimed it was responsible for failures which are contributing to the chaos. 

But responding to Emirates’ refusal to cancel flights, a Heathrow spokeswoman said it had ‘no choice’ but to make the ‘difficult’ decision to implement a passenger cap and said it would be ‘disappointing’ if any company was to put ‘profit ahead of a safe and reliable passenger journey’.

The new measures, which are due to remain in place until September 11, are part of Heathrow’s latest attempts to prevent a school summer holiday repeat of the chaotic scenes witnessed at airports up and down the UK over the Easter weekend. 

The order comes as airports across the UK continue to be hit with disruption today, with pictures showing queues at Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham, while astonishing video shows passengers sleeping on the floor at Stansted this morning.

On another day of airport chaos:

  • Emirates revealed it would be ignoring Heathrow Airport’s request for it and other airlines to cancel flights to comply with its new cap on passenger numbers;
  • It came after Heathrow bosses introduced a 100,000 daily passenger limit until September and demanded airlines cancel 10,000 flights;
  • While Emirates have protested the decision, BA has started contacting customers asking if they are able to change their flights before July 25 so they can begin rescheduling to meet the Heathrow’s requirements;
  • Passengers have been seen queueing at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester airports today; 
  • Meanwhile, astonishing video shows passengers at Stansted Airport sleeping on the floor as they waited for their flight;
  • American firm Delta Air Lines flew a plane to Heathrow to pick up 1,000 lost bags that had been left at the west London airport following a luggage backlog; 
  • EasyJet Holidays chief Garry Wilson told the BBC that it had done ‘everything in its control’ to prevent flight cancellations and sure up the resilience in its scheduling;
  • The budget airline cancelled more than 4,000 flights in the three months to the end of June in a bid to prevent a repeat of the chaotic scenes witnessed at airports over the Easter Holidays;
  • Celebrities, including presenter Richard Osman, took to Twitter to complain about lost baggage, while Waterloo Road star Angela Griffin said she had waited 10 weeks for a passport amid separate delays at the Passport Office.

Manchester Airport: Queues for check-in this morning as the airport’s boss admitted he cannot promise passengers a ‘great’ experience this summer

Birmingham: Crowds in the early hours of this morning amid continuing problems with baggage being taken off planes

Birmingham: Crowds in the early hours of this morning amid continuing problems with baggage being taken off planes

Today, with less than a fortnight to go until the start of the state school summer holidays for most families, there were queues at Heathrow, Birmingham , Gatwick and Manchester airports, even before the travel peak has started. Pictured: The queues for check-in at Heathrow's security at 4.30am this morning

Today, with less than a fortnight to go until the start of the state school summer holidays for most families, there were queues at Heathrow, Birmingham , Gatwick and Manchester airports, even before the travel peak has started. Pictured: The queues for check-in at Heathrow’s security at 4.30am this morning 

Queues of people are seen at Gatwick's North Terminal this morning as the travel chaos continues while the summer holidays start to get underway

Queues of people are seen at Gatwick’s North Terminal this morning as the travel chaos continues while the summer holidays start to get underway

Airlines and airports across London are still very much suffering as holidaymakers face chaos while the aviation industry recovers from the Covid pandemic

Airlines and airports across London are still very much suffering as holidaymakers face chaos while the aviation industry recovers from the Covid pandemic

It comes after travel expert Paul Charles today shared an email from BA to customers asking passengers travelling in the next fortnight if they would like to reschedule their flights for free

It comes after travel expert Paul Charles today shared an email from BA to customers asking passengers travelling in the next fortnight if they would like to reschedule their flights for free

British Airways (pictured: Library image) has started contacting passengers to ask if they are able to reschedule their flights amid a row between Heathrow and airlines over its decision to cap the number of passengers travelling through the airport

British Airways (pictured: Library image) has started contacting passengers to ask if they are able to reschedule their flights amid a row between Heathrow and airlines over its decision to cap the number of passengers travelling through the airport

Today, in the latest update to the summer of airport chaos, BA began contacting customers by email asking if they are able to change their flights.

The email said: ‘This week Heathrow Airport has set a passenger limit per day until September 2022. As a result, they have told us to adjust our flying schedule to reduce the number of customers using the airport this summer.

‘We understand that some customers may want to review their travel plans in light of current travel challenges. We want to be as flexible as possible so that you can move your flights if you wish.

‘If you are due to travel between now and July 25 and you wish to change your flights we have introduced a policy that will allow you to easily change your travel dates via our website.’

The airline insists the move is to help passengers who are concerned about flying amid the travel chaos and the current summer heatwave, and that it has already rescheduled in preparation for Heathrow’s announcement.

MailOnline understands around 80 flights have been cancelled across the next fortnight. However BA insists its schedule is line with Heathrow’s request and they are not expecting to make any short-notice cancellations, unless in the case of technical issues.

One airline that looks like it will not comply with Heathrow’s order is Emirates. The Dubai based carrier said in a statement today: ‘LHR (London Heathrow) last evening gave us 36 hours to comply with capacity cuts, of a figure that appears to be plucked from thin air.

‘Their communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should throw out paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non-compliance.

Delta Air Lines has to charter airbus to repatriate 1,000 lost bags from London Heathrow to Detroit – with no passengers onboard 

A Delta airlines plane flew from Heathrow to Detroit filled with 1,000 lost suitcases as the baggage crisis at the airport continues – on another day of huge queues for holidaymakers.

The airline made the move after cancelling its regular service between London and the US city on Monday due to Heathrow’s decision to introduce of an unprecedented 100,000 limit on daily departing passengers until September.

Passengers were instead move onto alternative flights, allowing Delta to use an empty Airbus SE A330-200 to transport piles of luggage.

Discussing quarterly results yesterday, chief executive Ed Bastian said: ‘We’ve gone as far as recently we had a separate charter just to repatriate bags back to customers that have been stranded because of some of the operational issues.’

A spokesperson for Delta added: ‘Delta teams worked a creative solution to move delayed checked bags from London-Heathrow on July 11 after a regularly scheduled flight had to be cancelled given airport passenger volume restrictions at Heathrow. Delta flight 9888 from Heathrow to Delta’s Detroit hub flew 1,000 bags back to the US, where teams then forwarded the bags on to our customers.’

The flight comes after Heathrow ordered airlines to stop selling summer tickets as airports across the UK battle against a staffing crisis in the aviation sector, while apologising to customers over long queues and baggage issues that have plagued holidaymakers for weeks.

The dramatic move imposes a maximum limit on the number of passengers allowed to leave the airport until September 11.

And it will lead to more cancellations on top of the thousands of flights axed in recent months.

Affected passengers will not be entitled to compensation as the reason for the cancellations will be classified as being outside the control of airlines. 

The airport was first plunged into chaos in March as bosses struggled to hire enough staff amid widespread labour shortages in the UK in the wake of the pandemic. 

Staff shortages have subsequently led to piles of lost luggage beside baggage belts and passengers having to wait weeks to be reunited with clothing and other necessities. 

‘This is entirely unreasonable and unacceptable, and we reject these demands.’ It added: ‘Until further notice, Emirates plans to operate as scheduled to and from LHR.’

But today Heathrow hit back. A spokesperson for the airport said: ‘Aviation is a complex network and no-one can operate in isolation. The network continues to suffer from Covid-related challenges.

‘While many factors have resulted in the delayed flights, misconnected bags, long waits for arriving bags and last-minute cancellations at Heathrow and airports across Europe in recent weeks, a key issue is airline ground-handling teams which are currently only resourced up to 70% capacity to serve passenger demand which has returned to 80-85% of pre-pandemic levels.

‘For months we have asked airlines to help come up with a plan to solve their resourcing challenges, but no clear plans were forthcoming and with each passing day the problem got worse.

‘We had no choice but to take the difficult decision to impose a capacity cap designed to give passengers a better, more reliable journey and to keep everyone working at the airport safe.

‘We have tried to be as supportive as possible to airlines and our 100,000 cap on daily departing passengers is significantly higher than the 64,000 cap at Schiphol (in Amsterdam).

‘It would be disappointing if instead of working together, any airline would want to put profit ahead a safe and reliable passenger journey.’

It comes as an American airline has sent an empty plane to the UK to repatriate hundreds of lost suitcases caught up in Britain’s travel chaos – as an easyJet chief pointed the finger of blame at airports.

Delta Air Lines sent the Airbus SE A330-200 to Heathrow Airport last night to bring back the bags, which have been following a baggage backlog at the west London travel hub.

The backlog stretches back from a technical glitch earlier this month which resulted in thousands of bags being stacked up outside Terminal 2, creating what some described as a ‘sea of luggage’.

A spokesperson for Delta added: ‘Delta teams worked a creative solution to move delayed checked bags from London-Heathrow on July 11 after a regularly scheduled flight had to be cancelled given airport passenger volume restrictions at Heathrow. 

‘Delta flight 9888 from Heathrow to Delta’s Detroit hub flew 1,000 bags back to the US, where teams then forwarded the bags on to our customers.’

It comes as Garry Wilson, chief executive of EasyJet Holidays, easyJet’s holiday wing, said the airline had done ‘everything in its control’ to prevent flight cancellations and sure up the resilience in its scheduling.  

The budget airline cancelled more than 4,000 flights in the three months to the end of June in a bid to prevent a repeat of the chaotic scenes witnessed at airports over the Easter Holidays.

Mr Wilson told the BBC: ‘We’ve done everything in our control to ensure there’s resilience in the system. There may be other things happening – like air traffic control delays, or with airport infrastructure.’

Travel firms have been blamed for the chaotic scenes at airports. Airlines and airports have been accused of failing to prepare for the return of international travel following the lifting of Covid restrictions earlier this year.

But airlines and airports have in turn blamed the Government, who they say left companies with no choice but to make job cuts by failing to extend the Covid furlough scheme for holiday firms until all travel restrictions had been lifted.

Mr Wilson rejected the suggestion EasyJet had failed to prepare for the summer. He said: ‘No, I think with the information we had at the time, we took all the steps that were necessary. As soon as we knew there was strain on the system, we built up that resilience, by taking flights out.’

It comes as at least 91,500 passengers will face disruption to their plans this summer after Heathrow bosses announced an unprecedented daily limit on flights as airport chaos continues to cripple UK travellers.

The 100,000 daily limit took effect immediately yesterday. Airport bosses also ordered UK airlines ‘stop selling summer tickets to limit the impact on passengers’ because Heathrow was already expecting an average of 104,000 daily outbound passengers in the coming months. 

But one airline, Emirates, has today announced that it will ignore an order from Heathrow Airport for it to cancel flights to comply with a cap on passenger numbers, describing it as ‘entirely unreasonable’.

The airline said in a statement: ‘LHR (London Heathrow) last evening gave us 36 hours to comply with capacity cuts, of a figure that appears to be plucked from thin air.

‘Their communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should throw out paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non-compliance. This is entirely unreasonable and unacceptable, and we reject these demands.’ It added: ‘Until further notice, Emirates plans to operate as scheduled to and from LHR.’

Today, with less than a fortnight to go until the start of the state school summer holidays for most families, there were queues at Heathrow, Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester airports, even before the travel peak has started. 

And in astonishing ideo shot this morning, dozens of passengers have been seen lying on the floor of Stansted Airport as they await their flights. 

Meanwhile, the separate issue with delays at the Passport Office today continued, with one father revealing how he has been battling for 14 weeks to get a passport for his eight-year-old daughter in order to take her on her first holiday abroad.

However the travel chaos is not just one faced by Britons. Yesterday passengers in Spain faced hundreds of delays and cancellations on day eight of strike action by Ryanair’s Spanish crews following a dispute over conditions.

And in Germany, the airline Lufthansa announced it would be scrapping 2,000 more flights, mostly domestic, amid airport chaos on the continent.

A Delta airlines plane flew from Heathrow to Detroit filled with 1,000 lost suitcases as the baggage crisis at the airport continues - on another day of huge queues for holidaymakers

A Delta airlines plane flew from Heathrow to Detroit filled with 1,000 lost suitcases as the baggage crisis at the airport continues – on another day of huge queues for holidaymakers 

It come as industry figures yesterday showed how Britain is the joint-worst major European country for flight cancellations.

Passengers have had 2 per cent of their flights axed this year, a figure matched only by Germany. France lost 1.5 per cent and Italy 1.1 per cent.

Father says he has waited 14 weeks for passport for daughter in order to take her on her first holiday 

A father has slammed the Passport Office after battling for 14 weeks to take his eight-year-old daughter on her first holiday abroad.

Paul Armstrong, 44, applied back in April for three passports for himself, his wife Nicola Armstrong, 46, and their daughter Madison Armstrong. The couple had planned to take Madison on a surprise summer holiday to Benidorm in Spain on August 19.

Paul said he received his passport weeks ago but has fought for the last three-and-a-half months to get passports for his daughter and his wife. He said that the Passport Office have repeatedly asked them for Nicola’s birth certificate – which they already have.

Paul Armstrong, 44, applied back in April for three passports for himself, his wife Nicola Armstrong, 46, and their daughter Madison Armstrong. The couple had planned to take Madison on a surprise summer holiday to Benidorm in Spain on August 19

Paul Armstrong, 44, applied back in April for three passports for himself, his wife Nicola Armstrong, 46, and their daughter Madison Armstrong. The couple had planned to take Madison on a surprise summer holiday to Benidorm in Spain on August 19

Paul, who lives with his family in Hebburn, South Tyneside, said: ‘I feel exacerbated. What should have been a very, very simple process has got lost into some kind of Bermuda Triangle. 

‘No one wanted to take responsibility until I really had to lose my temper with them. I have contacted them in excess of 10 times by phone and email. It just seems like nobody is talking to each other.’

Paul said he applied online for the three passports on April 4 this year so they could travel on the £2,000 trip. He said the Passport Office requested Nicola’s birth certificate for Madison’s application at the beginning of May.

He said he called them and made it clear that they already had the document as it was with Nicola’s application. Paul said he was told the email, which they were sent, was ‘automatically generated’ and just to ‘disregard it’.

However the following month, Paul and Nicola, who works as a warehouse operative, received another email from the Passport Office which said they were still waiting for the document. Paul said he called again and was told to disregard the email as it was a mistake.

Earlier this month, they received a further email from the Passport Office. which said Madison’s passport application was likely to be withdrawn and monies forfeited as they had not sent Nicola’s birth certificate.

Paul said they couldn’t afford to lose the money which they had paid for her application. He said he contacted the Passport Office in desperation but was told he had to wait on a call back.

He said the staff in the contact centre could only provide a call back and had no information about the applications. He said this has made the process even harder for customers.

Paul, who works as a child safe guarder, said: ‘It was incredibly frustrating. No one is prepared to listen, or take on board, that you know what the problem is. The problem was they had the document but it needed linked to my daughter’s application. I’m assuming it was a very simple transfer to do, when you tell them.

‘It just seems that there’s no channel of communication, there needs to be a channel of communication. When someone puts a complaint in, no one is passing that problem on.

‘I think they need to provide the information to the contact centre. They need to give them the information they need so they can answer queries. At the minute all their job is is to rebuff phone calls.’

After calling and emailing the Passport Office, Paul said he has now been told that the two passports have been authorised for printing. However they have not yet received them.

He added: ‘This is something special which I really wanted to do for Madison. It that gets pulled by some red tape in the application and poor communication, in an office at the other end of the country, that will be so annoying.’

A HM Passport Office spokesperson said: ‘Between March and May, we processed approximately three million applications, and 98.5% of applications were completed within 10 weeks. But we cannot compromise security checks and people should apply with plenty of time prior to travelling. We are in contact with the family to ensure they receive their passports.’

 

The crisis was worst in late February, when more than 5.5 per cent of UK services were cancelled. It was 3 per cent at the start of this month.

The figures, from travel intelligence firm OAG, mean that a flight in 2022 is 2.5 times more likely to be cancelled than one booked during the same period in 2019.

British Airways has scrapped the most UK flights (3.5 per cent) – nearly 12 times as many as budget rival Ryanair (0.3 per cent), which was the best-performing major carrier worldwide. EasyJet axed 2.8 per cent.

Gatwick was the worst airport, with a cancellation rate ten times higher than Stansted, the best-performing UK hub.

More than 3 per cent of flights from Gatwick didn’t go ahead, compared with Stansted’s 0.3 per cent. June was the worst month this year for the West Sussex airport, with one in every 14 flights not taking off.

Most were flights by easyJet which has axed more than 10,000 services this summer.

BA, which also operates at Gatwick but mainly lands and takes off from Heathrow, has cancelled more than 30,000 flights this summer. The data, from January 1 to July 10, does not include 10,300 flights axed by BA last week for later this summer.

Both Gatwick and Heathrow have capped departures in a bid to avoid chaotic scenes seen in recent months, including last-minute cancellations and huge queues at check-in desks and baggage collection halls.

Heathrow chief John Holland-Kaye has warned disruption could drag on for 18 months, due partly to a tight labour market and struggles to attract and retain recruits.

It comes as the new boss of one of the UK airports where passengers have arguably suffered the most with queues, delays and cancellations today warned he cannot promise passengers a ‘great’ experience this summer.

Manchester Airport’s managing director Chris Woodroofe said he expects ‘the vast majority’ of passengers to have a comfortable experience over the holiday season but admits he is still struggling to recruit staff so there will be more queues, sometimes out of departures. 

He claimed most passengers will ‘get through security in 30 minutes, get on their plane and fly away’, adding: ‘There’s going to be examples where that doesn’t happen, and in advance, I’m sorry about that. That’s a terrible thing to have happened because we want everyone to get on their way’. 

‘The aviation industry was decimated during Covid, and now has to do an enormous rebuild effort. That’s airports, airlines, ground handlers, border force. All of these organisations have the biggest recruitment effort they’ve ever had to do. The reality is we are still recruiting.’

Gatwick’s head of security, Cyrus Dana, has said they are on a hiring spree that will continue into 2023.

In a prediction for the upcoming summer holidays, he told the BBC: ‘There will be very rare occasions when you may join a queue outside of [the] departure [area]. But what I can encourage people to think about is that the queue will dissipate very quickly,’ he said, adding he still believed 90 per cent of people will be through security in ten minutes.’

A Gatwick spokesman said capacity would be increased carefully. A BA spokesman attributed disruption to storms in February, when one in seven of its flights was cancelled in a week. It also suffered an IT fault at the end of March.

John Grant, chief analyst at OAG, said: ‘When we entered Covid, airlines made a lot of people redundant.

‘During that two-year furlough period, those people found jobs elsewhere and have not returned to the industry. Of those that have returned, their security policies will have expired. They need to be vetted again and go through the same process as they did two years ago.’

Meanwhile, celebrities also appear to have been caught in the chaos. Richard Osman, who presents BBC game show Pointless with Alexander Armstrong, today took to social media to complain to BA about the loss of a make-up artist’s kit.

In a tweet, which has since been deleted, the 51-year-old presenter wrote: ‘Hi BA. You lost one of our make-up artist’s work kit on the way to Glasgow, and a whole team of people have been trying to ring you for 36 hours now with no response. This is someone’s living and you can’t answer the phone.’

Waterloo Road star Angela Griffin, meanwhile, took to Twitter to take aim at the Passport Office. Thousands of holidaymakers have complained about delays in getting their passports back.

The soap star, 45, wrote on Twitter: ‘Applied for a passport for daughter 10 weeks ago, meant to be flying next week….  is an absolute joke. 72 hour wait for a call back every time you call. Then when they do finally call and you lose reception they don’t call you back. Absolutely pathetic system.’

Ms Griffin is not the only one caught up in the Passport Office delays, which are separate to the airport chaos, but are also thought to involve staff shortages. 

Meanwhile, celebrities also appear to have been caught in the chaos. Richard Osman, who presents BBC game show Pointless with Alexander Armstrong, today took to social media to complain to BA about the loss of a make-up artist's kit

Meanwhile, celebrities also appear to have been caught in the chaos. Richard Osman, who presents BBC game show Pointless with Alexander Armstrong, today took to social media to complain to BA about the loss of a make-up artist’s kit

Waterloo Road star Angela Griffin, meanwhile, took to Twitter to take aim at the Passport Office. Thousands of holidaymakers have complained about delays in getting their passports back

Waterloo Road star Angela Griffin, meanwhile, took to Twitter to take aim at the Passport Office. Thousands of holidaymakers have complained about delays in getting their passports back

One father has slammed the Passport Office after battling for 14 weeks to take his eight-year-old daughter on her first holiday abroad.

Chaos across the continent as Ryanair Spain crew strike and Lufthansa cancels 2,000 flights in Germany 

British travellers hoping for an easier ride abroad could also be caught up with travel chaos on the continent.

Ryanair cabin crew in Spain are currently on strike following industrial action called by USO and SITCPLA.

The unions, who returned to strike action on Tuesday following six days of action last month, are demanding improvements in working conditions for members.

The first round of strikes caused up to 215 canceled flights and delays in another 1,255 throughout Spain, according to the unions. And Wednesday’s strike action caused the cancellation of 11 flights and delays in 231.

Meanwhile, German airline Lufthansa yesterday announced it would cut an additional 2,000 flights until the end of August.

The flights are mostly domestic flights from either Munich or Frankfurt. It brings the total number of cancellations by the airline to almost 6,000. 

Paul Armstrong, 44, applied back in April for three passports for himself, his wife Nicola Armstrong, 46, and their daughter Madison Armstrong. The couple had planned to take Madison on a surprise summer holiday to Benidorm in Spain on August 19.

Paul said he received his passport weeks ago but has fought for the last three-and-a-half months to get passports for his daughter and his wife. He said that the Passport Office have repeatedly asked them for Nicola’s birth certificate – which they already have.

A HM Passport Office spokesperson said: ‘Between March and May, we processed approximately three million applications, and 98.5% of applications were completed within 10 weeks. But we cannot compromise security checks and people should apply with plenty of time prior to travelling. We are in contact with the family to ensure they receive their passports.’ 

It comes as the chief of airlines has slammed Heathrow Airport for introducing an unprecedented 100,000 limit on daily departing passengers until September

Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said the airport should have gotten its act together after airlines predicted a strong rebound in traffic.

‘They clearly got it completely wrong,’ the former CEO of British Airways told Reuters.

Heathrow also ordered airlines to stop selling summer tickets as airports battle against a staffing crisis across the aviation sector while apologising to customers over long queues and baggage issues that holidaymakers have had to put up with for weeks. 

The dramatic move will impose a maximum limit on the number of passengers allowed to leave the airport between July 12 until September 11. 

Airlines had planned to operate flights with a daily capacity averaging 104,000 seats over that period – meaning further cancellations are likely. 

Heathrow said it has ordered airlines to ‘stop selling summer tickets to limit the impact on passengers’.

The measure will lead to more cancellations on top of the thousands of flights axed in recent months.

Affected passengers will not be entitled to compensation as the reason for the cancellations will be classified as being outside the control of airlines.

Manchester Airport's managing director Chris Woodroofe and Gatwick's head of security, Cyrus Dana, say that most will not suffer - but they are still struggling to recruit staff

Manchester Airport's managing director Chris Woodroofe and Gatwick's head of security, Cyrus Dana, say that most will not suffer - but they are still struggling to recruit staff

Manchester Airport’s managing director Chris Woodroofe and Gatwick’s head of security, Cyrus Dana, say that most will not suffer – but they are still struggling to recruit staff

Heathrow's chief executive John Holland-Kaye (pictured) yesterday announced departing passengers would be capped at 100,000

Willie Walsh (pictured), director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said the airport should have gotten its act together after airlines predicted a strong rebound in traffic

Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye (pictured left) yesterday announced departing passengers would be capped at 100,000. Willie Walsh (pictured right), director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said the airport should have gotten its act together after airlines predicted a strong rebound in traffic

Passengers have been hit by delays and cancellations at airports across the UK due to a shortage of staff after thousands were laid off or left the industry during Covid. 

Yesterday Heathrow cancelled another 61 flights at the last minute – disrupting 10,000 passengers. 

And in a fresh sign of chaos, easyJet passengers ‘mutinied’ after being forced to wait for four hours on the Gatwick Airport runway yesterday. 

Proposals to reduce compensation for air travellers come ‘at the worst possible time’ 

Proposals to reduce compensation for air travellers when their flights are delayed or cancelled come ‘at the worst possible time’, ministers have been told.

SNP MP Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) said: ‘UK Government proposals to reduce compensation levels for delayed, cancelled, or overbooked domestic flights are in place, at a time when passengers across the UK face unprecedented disruption, and this cutting of compensation can only be bad news for consumers.

‘Compensation levels have been set to deter airlines from running late services. Reducing this opens the door to poorer standards which will adversely impact travellers.

‘Will the Leader of the House make a statement setting out his concerns at this wrong policy at the worst possible time?’

Commons Leader Mark Spencer replied that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had ‘done a lot of work’ with airlines to try and resolve the challenges the industry faces.

He added: ‘I think we are making progress and I hope by the time we get to the summer that those people who have booked holidays will be able to get on those planes and enjoy the summer.’

The plane never even departed and they had to wait ‘until midnight’ to collect their luggage after being returned to the terminal. 

Announcing the passenger cap, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said yesterday: ‘Over the past few weeks, as departing passenger numbers have regularly exceeded 100,000 a day, we have started to see periods when service drops to a level that is not acceptable.’

Problems include long queue times, delays for passengers requiring assistance, bags not travelling with passengers or arriving late, low punctuality and last-minute cancellations, Mr Holland-Kaye said.

He said this is due to a combination of poor punctuality of arrivals due to delays at other airports and in European airspace, as well as increased passenger numbers ‘starting to exceed the combined capacity of airlines, airline ground handlers and the airport’.

He added: ‘Our colleagues are going above and beyond to get as many passengers away as possible, but we cannot put them at risk for their own safety and wellbeing.’

Aviation expert Julian Bray predicted disruption at UK airports would continue until next spring. 

‘Staffing issues remain as all airport aviation workers need security clearance which currently takes between 3 to 6 months. In this time many applicants get jobs elsewhere.’

Asked what customers should do if they have their flights cancelled, he said: 

‘Passengers who have flights cancelled are entitled to compensation, and a flight on another airline if possible They should keep in touch with their airline, holiday company and travel agent.’

Nicky Kelvin, Head of The Points Guy UK, said: ‘While the move to cap passenger numbers will no doubt be disruptive to many travellers looking to jet away over the coming months it is needed if we’re to see a shift away from the travel chaos of recent months. 

‘The numbers currently suggest that Heathrow is already hitting capacity for the number of passengers it is able to currently cater for. 

‘If you are still planning a getaway we’d advise you to plan your departure point accordingly, be flexible with dates if you can or consider other London or U.K. airports to star your journey.’

In the latest evidence of the chaos gripping UK airports, easyJet passengers were left stuck on a runway for four hours yesterday during searing conditions. 

And now passengers face delays in getting to the airports: Rail unions call July 27 strike to coincide with Women’s Euro 2022 semi-final and first day of Commonwealth Games after RMT rejected 4% pay rise 

Britain’s rail network will be shut down by another huge strike during the first week of the summer holidays – in a move that could impact on people getting to airports. 

Workers at rail operators and Network Rail will strike on Wednesday, July 27, in the dispute over pay, jobs and conditions, the RMT union has announced, revealing they have rejected a four per cent pay rise, calling it ‘paltry’ and vowing to strike ‘for as long as it takes’.

The new strike came after a week of disruption last month that saw train services slashed and millions wiped from the economy after four days of industrial action – including a day-long shut down of the Tube. Half of the country’s rail network closed with services reduced to a fifth of normal levels. 

Services such as the Heathrow and Stansted Express, which provide direct train services between London and the two airports, continued to run during the last strike, but on reduced timetables. 

As well as disrupting the start of the school summer holidays, the walkout on July 27 will also disrupt the semi final of the women’s Euro 2022 football championship being held in Milton Keynes. 

Tory MP and former sports minister Tracey Crouch said: ‘I would wager that this wouldn’t have happened during a major men’s football tournament. This punishes women and girls going off to cheer their heroines. Slow hand clap for the men’.

The Commonwealth Games begins in Birmingham the next day afterwards, meaning people heading to the opening ceremony on July 28 face disruption. 

Today’s offer was for a 4% pay rise backdated to January, another 2% next year and a further 2% conditional on achieving ‘modernisation milestones’.  The RMT said it has yet to receive the 7% pay offer it wants or guarantees over job losses from the train operating companies (TOCs).

General secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘The offer from Network Rail represents a real terms pay cut for our members and the paltry sum is conditional on RMT members agreeing to drastic changes in their working lives.

‘We have made progress on compulsory redundancies, but Network Rail are still seeking to make our members poorer when we have won in some cases double what they are offering, with other rail operators.

‘The train operating companies remain stubborn and are refusing to make any new offer which deals with job security and pay. Strike action is the only course open to us to make both the rail industry and Government understand that this dispute will continue for as long as it takes, until we get a negotiated settlement.

‘The public who will be inconvenienced by our strike action need to understand that it is the Government’s shackling of Network Rail and the TOCs that means the rail network will be shut down for 24 hours.’

 

Car hire costs in European holiday hotspots soared by more than 500% since before pandemic, research reveals amid fears rocketing prices are making family getaways unaffordable

Holidaymakers heading to popular hotspots across Europe and North America were warned to brace for a staggering rise in the cost of hiring a car while abroad.

Experts say Brits bound for a summer of sun on the continent must be vigilant to the hidden costs of car rental, with some destinations seeing price hikes of over 500%.

The cost of hiring a car in Ireland this summer has risen from £104 (in 2019) to £679 – an increase of 551 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Portugal recorded the second highest rise in car hire costs, with renting a small car now costing £339 – soaring 239 per cent compared to 2019 (£100).

And among the 10 most-searched for countries in June, the cost of car hire has more than doubled in three years, according to comparison website Ice Travel Group.

Holidaymakers heading to popular tourist hotspots across Europe and North America were warned to brace for a staggering rise in the cost of hiring a car while abroad

Holidaymakers heading to popular tourist hotspots across Europe and North America were warned to brace for a staggering rise in the cost of hiring a car while abroad

The developments come as a fresh blow to sun-seeking Brits, who have already endured a summer of travel hell with more expensive flights and airports cancelling thousands of trips at the last minute.

Ed Sharp, of Ice Travel Group, told the Telegraph the most important factor behind the rise in car hire costs was a global shortage of microchips, which has in turn led to a downturn in the number of cars being produced.

Mr Sharp encourages holidaymakers to target deals in ‘mass market destinations’, where pricing is expected to be more competitive.

Experts say Brits bound for a summer of sun on the continent must be vigilant to the hidden costs of car rental, with some destinations seeing price hikes of over 500%. [File image]

Experts say Brits bound for a summer of sun on the continent must be vigilant to the hidden costs of car rental, with some destinations seeing price hikes of over 500%. [File image]

Other recommendations include avoiding island destinations where rental companies face the logistical challenge of moving their fleets over water.

Consumer campaigner Frank Brehany said: ‘If people book flights and think they can take a chance on car hire they will be badly surprised. 

‘Travel won’t be back to normal until 2023 or 2024. Book at the earliest possible time, because I suspect the prices now will be the best you will get.’  

Estonia offered the cheapest car hire in Europe, with the average booking costing £112.

It comes as families face being hammered by punishing price rises as travel firms cash in on high demand for summer holidays after the Covid crisis.

The average cost of a week’s all-inclusive break for four across Europe’s top ten destinations has risen 17 per cent to £1,000 a head since June 2019, a study found.

(Stock Image) Sunny summer holidays abroad are being pushed further out of reach as prices soar for Brits

(Stock Image) Sunny summer holidays abroad are being pushed further out of reach as prices soar for Brits

(Stock image) The price of flights, car hire and more are continuing to increase this summer amid high demand

(Stock image) The price of flights, car hire and more are continuing to increase this summer amid high demand 

Car hire rocketed from an average £220 to almost £500, while the cost of single-trip travel insurance is up 40.5 per cent from £37.02 to £52.02.

Research by the travel comparison site Ice Travel Group paints a bleak picture, not least because a fall in the pound makes everything from tapas to an ice cream more expensive.

Industry experts say that the holiday industry is cashing in on the fact that taking a summer holiday is a priority for families who have suffered during the Covid crisis.

Chris Webber, head of holidays at Ice Travel, said getting away remains a ‘priority expense’ and demand is ‘directly impacting’ price rises. 

He added: ‘Holiday prices are being hit by a number of factors – increased energy and fuel costs, increased demand and also by businesses, such as hotels, trying to recoup some of the money lost in the pandemic.’

Revealed: The best ways to dodge a holiday car hire nightmare, from joining loyalty schemes to the trusted brands to book with 

By Neil Simpson for the Mail on Sunday

Book now and box clever to avoid a car hire crisis this summer. That’s the message from travel experts who fear rental costs will soar and availability will slump as summer approaches.

‘Rocketing car rental prices are set to hit holiday budgets hard wherever you go this year,’ says Rory Boland, editor of the Which? Travel guide. In the worst cases, he says some areas may run out of cars completely.

Today’s cost and availability crisis began in 2020 when the travel industry shut down and rental firms began selling cars to survive. Industry estimates say American rental firms sold a third of their cars in the first year of the pandemic, while European firms cut fleets by more than half.

But while demand from holidaymakers has recovered, rental firms are a long way from rebuilding their fleets (they say it’s due to supply-chain issues). They are also charging eye-watering prices for car hire.

A two-week summertime rental from Palma airport on Majorca that cost about £200 pre-pandemic is now on offer for more than £700, for example. A ten-day rental from Los Angeles Airport, perfect to drive the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco and back, has risen from under £500 in August 2019 to more than £1,250 this year.

Prices are equally high from Faro to Florida, and they’re expected to keep rising until at least the end of the summer. Booking early can take some sting out of the situation, as even today’s prices may look like bargains by the time the school holidays arrive.

Another tip is to pay in full when you book. That’s because rental firms may be taking bookings now for cars they hope to have delivered over the next few months. If the vehicles don’t materialise and some rentals have to be cancelled, customers who pre-paid in full should get priority over those with ‘pay on collection’ contracts.

Members of rental firms’ loyalty schemes should also get priority. Signing up is free and with Avis Preferred and others, you earn money-off vouchers for future rentals. This can normally be done even if the booking is through a travel agent.

If cars are scarce this summer, it’s also worth responding to any ‘digital check-in’ or ‘pre-register for a speedy getaway’ emails from your rental firm.

Recent holidaymakers say pre-registration takes time, as you may need to repeat the flight, driving licence, passport and other details you gave at the booking stage. But the more you do to ensure rental firms know you’re coming, the more likely you are to get a car.

Some say booking direct with a car hire firm makes sense this year as you won’t have to deal with middle-men if there’s a problem.

Others like having a trusted UK-based brand in their corner. Firms such as Trailfinders, Travel Counsellors, Hays Travel, Jet2 Holidays, British Airways Holidays and Kuoni score well in the latest Which? report on package holiday service standards for flights, hotels and hire cars.

However you book, check for flexible terms so that it can be cancelled for free if you are unable to travel.

And don’t expect that new-car smell, especially in popular American destinations like Las Vegas and Orlando. Rental firms that once sold cars before they had 50,000 miles on the clock are now keeping them twice as long.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk