Easter chaos: Holidaymakers face road delays, flight cancellations and ferry woes

8 April 2022, 00:09

Disruption is expected to continue at ferry ports, airports and on popular tourist routes.
Disruption is expected to continue at ferry ports, airports and on popular tourist routes. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Sophie Barnett

Easter travel chaos is expected next weekend with holidaymakers being warned of long delays on the roads, more flights being cancelled and "severe pressure" at ferry ports.

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Millions of people are expected to take to the road over the Easter weekend in search of a spring break, with the AA estimating more than 27.6 million car journeys between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Some 13.6 million are expected on Good Friday alone, leading to fears of tailbacks on popular tourist routes.

AA spokesman Tony Rich said: "The Easter holidays look set to give British tourism a much-needed boost as people cut back on overseas travel.

"With more than 27.6 million trips planned over the bank holiday weekend, we can expect significant congestion across the UK as people flock to coastal resorts and holiday homes."

The warning comes as travel chaos hit the port of Dover on Thursday, with delays expected to continue in the coming days.

Lorry drivers faced 12-hour waits and a 30-mile jam at the ferry port, with no access to food, water or toilets, because P&O Ferries aren't running crossings.

Read more: 'Worst queues I’ve ever seen': Lorry drivers face 12-hour waits and '30 mile jam' at Dover

Read more: Manchester Airport chaos: 'Airlines tell customers to drop off bags night before flight'

Queues were described as the worst some people had ever seen.

Officials have struggled to contain the cross-Channel chaos caused by the lack of P&O ferry crossings.

Operation Brock, part of a series of measures which is supposed to help local traffic flow in the event of disruption to services across the English Channel, is currently in place between junctions 8 and 9, but will now stretch to junction 11, as the lorry chaos blighting Kent grows.

Trevor Bartlett, leader of Dover District Council, warned the port will be "under severe pressure throughout the busy Easter getaway".

In an open letter, he wrote: "It would be remiss of me not to warn you to expect, and prepare for, some disruption again this weekend.

"I have made it clear to the Kent Resilience Forum, Kent Police and Kent County Council that we will not tolerate another weekend of gridlock in Dover.

"For too long, local residents and businesses have had to endure disruption and, quite frankly, deserve better.

"We share your concerns about the impact of gridlock on local businesses and access to vital health and social care for our most vulnerable residents.

"Many are rightly worried about how the emergency services would be able to respond to a major incident when all routes into the town are effectively cut off."

P&O Ferries has announced it is preparing to restart sailings "from this weekend" on routes suspended since it sacked nearly 800 seafarers.

The firm revealed plans to resume operations for four of its ships.

It has been prevented from running all but one of its vessels since it announced widespread redundancies on March 17.

The company sparked outrage by replacing its crews with cheaper agency workers, without notice.

Meanwhile, airports continue to face disruption amid huge staff shortages caused by the Covid pandemic.

Manchester Airport in particular has been hit by staffing issues, with a string of measures being brought in to ease the disruption, which has led to flight cancellations and chaos in terminals.

The city's mayor, Andy Burnham, said some airlines have even told passengers to drop off their bags the night before their flight to avoid long queues.

People are also being urged to arrive three hours ahead of take off, with extra police presence stationed at the airport.

Passengers have complained of lengthy waits at check-in, security and luggage collection, with the city's mayor Andy Burnham describing the situation as "unacceptable".

In chaotic scenes, piles of suitcases have been left in terminals as passengers abandoned the wait to reclaim their baggage and instead left for home.

Manchester Airport apologised this weekend to passengers after they admitted they had "fallen short of the standards they expected" and on Tuesday its managing director Karen Smart stepped down.

Similar problems have hit other airports including Heathrow and Birmingham as the Easter getaway approaches.

Heathrow Airport, which saw similar disruption, blamed disruption over the weekend on Covid checks required by destination countries and "high passenger volumes".

But there were also reports of staff shortages and problems with the e-gate passport checkpoints, as travellers took to social media to air their frustrations.