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Easter getaway chaos: Over 100 flights cancelled as airlines face post-Covid holiday boom
4 April 2022, 11:20 | Updated: 4 April 2022, 16:08
Easter holidaymakers endured more disruption on Monday as flights were cancelled over staff shortages.
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EasyJet, which axed at least 222 flights over the weekend, cancelled another 62 on Monday.
It left travellers stuck abroad with no alternative way home having been offered, while others complained about a lack of information.
British Airways cancelled at least 115 flights from Heathrow but only a handful were called off at the last-minute due to Covid, it is understood.
Some have blamed the schedule issues because of the return to demand for holidays following Covid, with Greater Manchester's mayor suggesting it was hard to reboot operations after two years of "grinding to a halt".
Several flights were axed because of a planned reduced schedule that will be in place until the end of May due to concerns about rising Covid cases.
An EasyJet spokesman said the airline's cancellations were a "small proportion" of the 1,645 planned on Monday.
"As a result of the current high rates of Covid infections across Europe, like all businesses easyJet is experiencing higher than usual levels of employee sickness," he said.
A British Airways spokesperson said: "Aviation has been one of the industries worst hit by the pandemic, and airlines and airports are experiencing the same issues rebuilding their operations while managing the continuing impact of Covid."
And families looking to travel to France on the ground were hit too, as Eurotunnel said services were delayed by three hours because a "a train stopped temporarily in the tunnel".
Travellers at Heathrow and Manchester airports reported severe disruption over the weekend.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said "to some degree airports all over the world are going through this because gearing up an airport after they’ve ground to a halt in the last couple of years is a really hard thing to do".
He added: "All of us need to be patient and understand the situation that they're in.
"I think the clear message to the public is do allow more time… arrive earlier than you would have done."
One social media user at Manchester said: "Current queue times at Manchester Airport are hours and hours long, but bag drop only opens 2 hours before flight tomorrow morning. Genuinely worried that we will miss our flight with our 8 month old baby..."
Another said: "Estimate that there are well over 1000 people in the security queue at T2 #ManchesterAirport. Only two of ten lanes open."
Anyone travelling from @ManchesterAirp T2 - allow a lot of time - it took me 1hr 45 to get through security. Arrived 4 hours before flight so was ok - lots of very panicked people being rushed through the security queues. Most airport staff doing well in v difficult circumstances— Jess Denton (@jdenton_SJB) April 3, 2022
Meanwhile, at Heathrow, one Twitter user complained: "1.5 hours queue at Heathrow T2 this morning for Swiss Air Lines bag drop… #airportchaos"
Another tweeted: "Mental [queue] at London Heathrow, been stood in it for over two hours and still not even at security yet."
A third social media user said: "Heathrow Terminal 2 is just [a] shambles! 3.5 hours to check in a single suitcase which then doesn't arrive! On our return flight, doors are closed so we had to wait 20 mins, then 1.5 hours in immigration! Such a joke."
So arriving at Heathrow last night to FINALLY go on our (4x postponed) honeymoon to Argentina, we find that @British_Airways have booted us off the direct flight. Rebooked us for this morn via Madrid. Flight delayed and huge queues mean we missed our connection in Madrid.— Laurie (@laurieturville) April 4, 2022
Replying to one passenger who wanted guidance on how far ahead to arrive before his flight, Heathrow said: "Queue times have been longer as passenger numbers rise. We do not have information of how long it takes to pass security."
A Heathrow spokesperson said at the weekend: "Due to high passenger volumes and the Covid documentation checks still required by many end destinations, Terminal 2 departures has experienced some congestion today.
"Our teams are supporting our airline partners to get passengers away on their journeys as quickly as possible and we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused."