‘It’s utter folly’: Hard-left train unions are slammed as 50,000 staff plan to walk out

The man who wants to ruin your summer: Hard-left train unions are slammed as 50,000 staff plan to walk out for five days of rail and Tube chaos that will disrupt GCSE exams and ruin plans for gigs and festivals in UK’s first summer post-Covid

Britons face more travel misery as thousands of railways workers voted to stage three days of strikes in June The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and 13 train operators voted to strike after talks broke downThe strike action will take place on June 21, 23 and 25 with a further strike planned for London UndergroundRMT said rail staff who worked through the pandemic were facing pay freezes while bosses enjoy huge profitsThe transport watchdog said it is ‘passengers who suffer most’ and said it is vital both parties continue talks

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Militant rail unions have been slammed for ‘putting a gun to the head of an industry’ as staff plan to walk out in summer, threatening to hinder the nation’s travel amid by-elections, GCSEs and summer music festivals.

The hard-left Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said 50,000 of its workers at Network Rail and 13 train operators will walk out on June 21, 23 and 25, and warned that more strikes would follow if a row over pay and job cuts was not resolved.

A Government source said the RMT union’s actions were ‘utter folly’ and would ‘hugely inconvenience’ the travelling public and alienate those whose ticket purchases ‘ultimately support RMT jobs’. 

The source added: ‘The RMT appears to believe that the way you engage in meaningful negotiation is to put a gun to the head of an industry still struggling from the aftershock of the pandemic.’

It is another blow to travellers, who are already facing a summer of chaos at airports due to staff shortages and some airlines overbooking flights, and UK infrastructure as petrol prices hit £2 a litre this week. 

The strikes, which start on the Tuesday and run until Saturday, will cause travel chaos for people going to a number of major events, including concerts, test match cricket and the Glastonbury festival – which starts on June 22 and runs until June 26, with many festival-goers planning to travel to the site by train.

The strikes could also cause disruption for voters in the two upcoming by-elections, with both seats being decided on June 23, and GCSE students sitting exams this summer. 

Other events that week include England playing New Zealand in a test match in Leeds, the British athletics championships in Manchester, and gigs in London’s Hyde Park by Elton John (June 24) and the Rolling Stones (June 25).

Rail chiefs were last night scrambling to put in place contingency measures which would see freight trains prioritised over passenger services to prevent blackouts in some areas and ensure supermarket shelves and petrol forecourts remain stocked.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said railway workers had been ‘treated appallingly’ and ‘despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the government has failed to take their concerns seriously’. 

Over the last decade, the median earnings for train drivers have risen 39 per cent, far above the national average of 23 per cent, or 15 per cent for nurses. Train drivers on average earn £59,000, compared with £31,000 for nurses and £41,000 for police officers. Rail workers can also retire at 62, earlier than civil servants, nurses and teachers. 

Union boss Mick Lynch was pictured enjoying his journey on the new Elizabeth Line after his RMT union voted to strike across much of the capital’s underground network on Monday, causing widespread chaos in London with most zone 1 stations closed

Commuters queue for busses at Liverpool Street Station as London Underground workers go on strike for 24 hours causing severe travel delays and disruption across London, June 6

Commuters get off from a London Overground service at Liverpool Street station as a Tube strike disrupts the Underground lines, June 6

Tory MP Greg Smith, who sits on the Commons transport committee, said: ‘This is our first proper summer of people getting back on and enjoying great sporting, musical and cultural occasions only to find that the summer’s going to be wrecked by dinosaur action from a different era holding the country to ransom.

‘It’s time the RMT woke up, understood the damage they’re causing to people’s lives and livelihoods and got on with providing the service that the nation relies on.’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described the announcement as ‘incredibly disappointing’ and urged the union to return to talks with the rail industry in a bid to prevent ‘driving passengers from the rail network for good’.

The transport watchdog said it is ‘passengers who suffer most’ and said it is vital both parties continue talks to prevent uncertainty. 

It comes as the RMT also announced another 24-hour strike on London Underground in a separate row over jobs and pensions.

Tube workers will strike for a second time this month on June 21 to coincide with the first rail strike, threatening widespread travel chaos.

Meanwhile, hundreds of check-in and ground staff employed by British Airways at Heathrow began voting on strike action yesterday. 

Members of the Unite and GMB unions are being balloted in a dispute over pay which could cause yet more chaos at the UK’s busiest airport during the summer holiday period. 

Travellers continue to experience delays and cancelled flights at Britain’s airports, with thousands of families left stranded abroad.

The union said it will be the biggest strike on the railways since 1989.

Union members voted overwhelmingly for action last month in growing rows over pay and job losses.

The union wants a guarantee that no compulsory redundancies will be made as ministers ask the industry to make £2billion in savings after being bailed out during the pandemic and passenger numbers stabilising at around 75 per cent post-pandemic.

It also wants pay rises for members in line with the RPI rate of inflation – currently 11.1 per cent.

The strikes, which start on the Tuesday and run until Saturday, will cause travel chaos for people going to a number of major events, including concerts, test match cricket and the Glastonbury festival. Pictured: People enjoy a past Glastonbury festival

Other events that could be disrupted by the rail strikes this year include a Hyde Park concert performed by Sir Elton John

It is understood that during opening talks the RMT was offered a minimum two per cent pay increase for workers.

The union’s negotiators were told that this could increase if they were willing to accept modernisation of working practices.

Its resistance to modernisation has been branded ‘absurd’, with one senior industry source last month revealing how the union was even blocking staff from using mobile phone apps to better communicate with each other during the pandemic.

The RMT said rail staff who worked through the pandemic were facing pay freezes and hundreds of job cuts.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘Railway workers have been treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the government has failed to take their concerns seriously.

‘We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1 per cent and rising.

‘Our union will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system.

‘Rail companies are making at least £500m a year in profits, while fat cat rail bosses have been paid millions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other include England playing New Zealand in a test match in Leeds and the British athletics championships in Manchester

The Rolling Stones (above) will perform in Hyde Park on June 25 but some fans may struggle to get there during the strikes

‘This unfairness is fuelling our members anger and their determination to win a fair settlement.

‘RMT is open to meaningful negotiations with rail bosses and ministers, but they will need to come up with new proposals to prevent months of disruption on our railways.’

Union boss Mick Lynch was pictured enjoying his journey on the new Elizabeth Line after his RMT union voted to strike across much of the capital’s underground network on Monday, causing widespread chaos in London with most zone 1 stations closed 

Which train operators will be affected? 

Union members from National Rail and 13 different operators have voted to carry out strike action this month. 

Those operators are: 

Avanti West Coastc2cChiltern RailwaysCrossCountryEast Midlands RailwayGreater AngliaGWRLNERNorthernSoutheasternSouth Western RailwayTransPennine ExpressWest Midlands Trains (including London Northwestern Railway)

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The June 21 strike will see 40,000 workers from Network Rail, which is in charge of infrastructure, and 13 train companies covering most of the country walkout for 24 hours.

In addition 10,000 London Underground workers will strike, also bringing most of the capital’s transport network to a grinding halt.

The 40,000 mainline workers will then strike again on June 23 and 25.

A senior rail industry source said that calling the strikes every other day that week was designed to have maximum impact.

They said: ‘It completely screws the network on the day of strikes and for most of the next days when strikes aren’t happening.

‘Three days, midnight to midnight, basically screws the entire week.’ This is because signallers and other critical workers often start 12-hour shifts at 8pm or 10pm.

But because they won’t turn up on strike days, many won’t be in place to get the railways running again the following morning on non-strike days.

The source added: ‘What it means now is that we will have to do the contingency planning for vital freight routes that we were hoping to avoid.

‘We’ll work with the freight industry over the next two weeks to identify critical routes where freight needs to be delivered and reschedule them into the timetable, prioritising freight over passenger services.’ It means even more passenger trains face being taken out of service.

Ministers have been told that multiple-day strikes could lead to lights going out in places due to freight services being hit.

Industry insiders point to Drax power station in North Yorkshire, which can only stockpile supplies sufficient for two or three days and services millions of homes.

Tesco and Puma Energy, which supplies garage forecourts, have also raised concerns about supply lines.

Network Rail chief Andrew Haines said: ‘We continue to meet with our trades unions to discuss their pay concerns and we’re doing everything we can to avoid strike action on the railway.

‘We know that the cost of living has increased and we want to give our people a pay rise, but the RMT must recognise we are a public body and any pay increase has to be affordable for taxpayers and passengers.

‘Travel habits have changed forever and the railway must change as well.

‘We cannot expect to take more than our fair share of public funds, and so we must modernise our industry to put it on a sound financial footing for the future.

Pictured: Leicester Square station was still shut on Tuesday morning amid the strike action organised by the RMT union 

Commuters waiting to board a bus at Victoria Station in London on Monday due to strike action by 4,000 station tube staff

‘Failure to modernise will only lead to industry decline and more job losses in the long run.’

Summer of Discontent: Fears mount over a repeat of the infamous winter of 1978 as slew of strikes set for coming months 

Fears are mounting of a repeat of the 1978 ‘Winter of Discontent’ in which a slew of strikes by waste workers, gravediggers and lorry drivers resulted in squalid conditions for Brits under Labour PM Jim Callaghan. 

It comes as the RMT union announced a national rail strike which could see Network Rail forced to operate on a skeleton timetable to reserve tracks for the movement of goods – with passengers only having access to key services.

Civil servants have also threatened national strike action that could bring disruption to key infrastructure such as ports, courts and airports, after being offered a 2 per cent pay rise, which they deemed as insufficient amid the ongoing cost of living crisis that is currently causing inflation levels of 9 per cent. 

The head of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, Manuel Cortes, threatened the biggest disruption since the General Strike of 1926. 

But it is not only the railways that are set to be massively disrupted by strikes in the coming months. Holidaymakers travelling through Heathrow this summer will have to prepare for delays and slower service, as the GMB Union is balloting for strikes to take place at the airport.

Fears are mounting of a repeat of the 1978 ‘Winter of Discontent’ in which a slew of strikes led to squalid living conditions across Britain

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Steve Montgomery, chair of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said: ‘We urge the RMT’s leadership to call off needless and damaging strikes and continue to work with us to ensure a fair deal for our people and for the taxpayer while securing the long-term future of the railways.

‘No one wins in the event of a strike. Staff lose pay, the industry loses vital revenue making it harder to afford pay increases, and passengers and businesses are disrupted.

‘While we will keep as many services running as possible, sadly if this action goes ahead, significant disruption will be inevitable.’

Rail Delivery Group Chairman Steve Montgomery said: ‘Today’s announcement is disappointing.

‘We urge the RMT’s leadership to call off needless and damaging strikes and continue to work with us to ensure a fair deal for our people and for the taxpayer while securing the long-term future of the railways.

‘No-one wins in the event of a strike. Staff lose pay, the industry loses vital revenue making it harder to afford pay increases, and passengers and businesses are disrupted.

‘While we will keep as many services running as possible, sadly if this action goes ahead, significant disruption will be inevitable.

‘We therefore urge passengers to plan their journeys carefully and find alternative ways to travel during the strike period where possible.’

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘Passengers will be disappointed that the rail industry and the RMT have not been able to reach an agreement and strikes have been announced.

‘This means uncertainty for passengers, so it is crucial that all parties get back around the table and resolve this matter without bringing the railway to a standstill.

‘It is passengers who suffer most in the event of strikes. Passengers will need plenty of advance information about the strikes and what services will be running to allow them to plan their journeys during this uncertain time.’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘It is incredibly disappointing the RMT have decided to take action that could drive passengers away from the rail network for good.

‘The pandemic has changed travel habits – with 25 per cent fewer ticket sales and the taxpayer stepping in to keep the railways running at a cost of £16 billion, equivalent to £600 per household.

‘We must act now to put the industry on a sustainable footing.

‘We are working with industry to reduce disruption caused by strike action, but unions are jumping the gun by announcing this when talks have only just begun.

‘We once again want to urge the unions to come to talks with the rail industry so we can work together to build a better, more modern, passenger-focused railway.’

The imminent rail strike is just the latest disruption to hit travelling Britons so far this summer with tube staff also striking this week which caused widespread chaos in the capital. Pictured: The closed Victoria Underground Station on Monday

A proposed walkout at Heathrow, which union members are currently voting on this month, coincides with chaos at UK airports which has seen people left queuing for hours. Pictured: travellers queue for hours at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday

Former transport minister Norman Baker said the union had ‘put the cart before the horse’ by announcing strike action before any proposals from the rail industry had been made.

Fuel hits £2 A LITRE as petrol and diesel prices reach record-high 

Fuming drivers are being forced to pay more than £2 per litre for both petrol and diesel as the war in Ukraine and supply chain issues continue to drive up wholesale costs.

The never-before-seen prices have led the RAC to declare a ‘national fuel crisis’, warning that the 200p threshold could soon become the norm for much of the country, at a time when Brits are already struggling through the cost of living crisis and a 9% inflation rate. 

Fed-up motorists took to social media to share the shocking figures quoted by their local garages. 

Among the most outrageous was a BP garage on the A1 near Sunderland, which was selling a litre of unleaded and diesel for 202.9p and 204.9p respectively.  

A Gulf petrol garage in Essex and another forecourt on the M6 in Cumbria were also selling fuel for more than £2-per-litre. 

It came as petrol prices set a new average record of 178.5p per litre yesterday morning after soaring by 0.6p in just 24 hours.

The cost of diesel also surged to an average price of 185.2p per litre. It is the largest weekly increase for both fuels since March.

Some businesses are already feeling the strain, with freight companies reporting that the cost of running one lorry is already up £20,000 on last year, leaving the haulage industry ‘in crisis.’

The RAC had already warned that ‘frightening’ petrol prices will exceed an average of 180p per litre this week in what it described as a ‘national fuel crisis’. 

The motoring body called for ‘radical government intervention’ after figures from data firm Experian Catalist showed petrol prices soared by nearly 6p per litre over the half-term school holiday.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: ‘The cost of filling a 55-litre family car with petrol has now topped £98 for the first time in history as a result of a litre hitting a new all-time high of 178.5p on Monday. 

‘Diesel also rose to yet another record by reaching 185.2p which takes the cost of a tank to £101.86.

‘With analysts predicting that oil will average $135 a barrel for the rest of this year drivers need to brace themselves for average fuel prices rocketing to £2 a litre which would mean a fill-up would rise to an unbelievable £110.

‘The oil price is rising due to increased demand for fuel across the world as China eases its Covid restrictions and America and Europe go into the peak summer driving season. 

‘All this combined with a weaker pound at $1.2 means wholesale fuel costs more for retailers to buy.’ 

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Neither Network Rail nor train operators have threatened compulsory redundancies at this stage but they have been ordered to find £1-2billion in annual savings. 

Mr Baker told GB News: ‘We don’t really know what they want because they’ve gone on strike before any particular proposals from the industry to kerb their jobs or change pensions or do anything else.

‘They’ve put the cart before the horse. We have campaigned to get people back on the railway.

‘I’m conscious that the government has spent a huge amount of money in the last two years to keep services running.

‘It’s very frustrating to work hard to get people back on the railways only to have the rug pulled from under you by strike for, well, we don’t quite know what reason.’ 

The union’s resistance to modernisation has been branded ‘absurd’, with one industry source last month revealing staff were blocked from using mobile phone apps to communicate during the pandemic. Ministers believe millions could be saved through modernisation.   

The GMB union is overseeing the threat of action at Heathrow as members are voting on whether to strike in a dispute over pay which could cause yet more chaos for travelling Brits this summer.

GMB says it is taking action after a ten per cent pay cut imposed on check-in and ground staff during the pandemic has not been reinstated – despite bosses having their pre-covid pay rates reinstated.

The ballot ends on June 23. 

Nadine Houghton, its national officer, said: ‘Staff at Heathrow have been verbally and physically abused by angry passengers after British Airways’ staff shortages and IT failures nearly brought the airport to a standstill.

‘On top of that, they had their pay slashed during BA’s callous fire and rehire policy.

‘Now they want that money back. Bosses have had it back. Heathrow ground and check in staff want to know why they haven’t had it too.

‘Unrest is now starting to spread like wildfire to other groups of BA workers with many more now considering a vote to walk out.

‘British Airways faces a gruelling summer of travel chaos if they won’t give these workers what’s rightfully theirs.’   

The move would heap more misery on British holidaymakers who are already suffering under a wave of cancelled flights that have left many stuck abroad for days unable to get home.

It comes after 4,000 London Underground staff walked out for 24 hours yesterday, leaving workers battling to get on buses and into taxis, with ride-hailing service Uber ramping up its prices. Some services were running, but the majority of stations shut.

Ministers want around £2billion shaved off the rail budget after bailing out the industry by more than £16billion during the pandemic.

TfL is cutting 600 jobs by not refilling roles when people retire or leave.

Civil servants have also threatened national strike action that could bring disruption to key infrastructure such as ports, courts and airports, after being offered a 2 per cent pay rise, which they deemed as insufficient amid the ongoing cost of living crisis that is currently causing inflation levels of 9 per cent. 

Finally back to the UK…and a THREE-HOUR wait for luggage: Returning Brits face huge delays for bags amid more scenes of chaos at UK airports – as thousands remain stranded abroad

Passenger Emma Bromfield said she was subjected to the huge wait after landing at Gatwick Airport  Travellers are crossing borders instead of waiting for later flights as they race to return to work and schoolEasyJet has cancelled more than 300 flights across Europe with more than 2,000 delayedAirline cancels nearly 50 flights including 22 at Gatwick to likes of Amsterdam, Milan and Bordeaux 

By Mark Duell and Rory Tingle, Home Affairs Correspondent for MAILONLINE 

British holidaymakers are having to wait as long as three hours at Gatwick Airport’s baggage reclaim in the latest evidence of major disruption at UK airports.   

Passenger Emma Bromfield said she was subjected to the huge wait after landing yesterday and described scenes of ‘absolute chaos’.   

Her carrier, Canadian airline WestJet, said the issue had been caused by ‘ramp staffing’ at Gatwick, and apologised to customers. 

It comes as easyJet cancelled nearly 50 more flights, while other families stranded in Europe were scrambling to get home after being told there were no seats available on flights for several days.

Travellers crossed borders instead of waiting as they raced to return to work and school after half-term, with some saying they were unable to get through to customer service teams of airlines on the phone to try to rebook. 

Some whose flights were cancelled on Saturday were told it would take until Friday for the next available seats, so were forced to spend hundreds of pounds for new flights or other modes of transport such as Eurostar trains.

Among them were teachers needing to get back to the classroom and A-level pupils who risk missing exams after easyJet cancelled more than 300 flights across Europe in the past three days, with more than 2,000 delayed.

Families impacted including the O’Hara family from Sussex whose easyJet flight home from Fuerteventura on Saturday was cancelled – with the next available tickets on Friday. A couple from Lincolnshire also had an easyJet flight home from Montenegro cancelled on Saturday, and were told Thursday was the earliest they could get back.

It comes as travel agents are being inundated with phone calls from customers fearing their summer holidays will be disrupted, with about a third of calls at present being from those worried about bookings for July and August.

EasyJet axed 46 flights yesterday, including 20 at Gatwick and seven at Luton. The Gatwick departures were flights to Amsterdam, Luqa, Rijeka, Copenhagen, Bastia, Nantes, Milan and Bordeaux – and the arrivals were from Gran Canaria, Pafos, Lanzarote, Kos, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Rijeka, Luqa, Bastia, Nantes, Bordeaux and Milan.

Wizz Air also cancelled two arrivals at Gatwick from Tel Aviv and Faro. At Luton, there were three easyJet arrivals cancelled from Amsterdam, Lisbon and Palermo; and four departures to Bristol, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Palermo.

Bristol Airport, which has been one of the worst-hit airports, was badly affected again yesterday with a total of 16 easyJet cancellations – including seven departures to Split, Pula, Edinburgh, Inverness, Olbia, Bilbao and Geneva; and nine arrivals from Alicante, Palma de Mallorca, Luton, Edinburgh, Pula, Split, Bucharest, Inverness and Bilbao.

In Scotland, easyJet also cancelled four flights at Edinburgh and four flights at Glasgow – all of which were arrivals or departures to Bristol or Amsterdam. At Inverness, one departure and arrival from Bristol were axed.

While the total number of cancelled easyJet flights at airports yesterday was 53, the actual total is 46 because seven are duplicates – ie Edinburgh to Bristol is listed twice, once as an Edinburgh departure and once as a Bristol arrival. 

Some 124 British Airways flights at London Heathrow Airport were cancelled yesterday, although the airline stressed that affected passengers were given plenty of advance notice with these services all axed a few months ago. 

UK airline passengers have been hit by disruption for several months due to a lack of staff after the companies let thousands of people go during the pandemic. Airlines, airports and ground handling firms are now struggling to recruit new staff and have their security checks processed amid a surge in demand since restrictions were lifted. 

Among those caught up in the chaos yesterday morning was Diego Garcia Rodriguez, 32, a Spanish national who lives in Brighton. He told how passengers were left in tears at Gatwick due to the last-minute cancellations, adding: ‘I’m flying from Gatwick to Barcelona and I was at the airport three hours before but almost didn’t make it to board. 

‘The flight hasn’t been delayed so far but I have seen lots of people whose flights have been cancelled, some crying and stressing out and they only got the news after having gone through the security control so they didn’t know how to get out. There was no information and it was all very chaotic.’

Meanwhile, hundreds of check-in and ground staff employed by British Airways at Heathrow began voting on a summer of strike action. Members of the Unite and GMB unions are being balloted in a dispute over pay.

And the Spanish government said that the country’s police will hire 200 extra officials to handle the flow of tourists at Madrid Barajas Airport this summer, taking the total to 600 after a surge in passengers in recent weeks. 

Also, Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, which represents independent travel agents, said that its members are receiving ‘a significant number of calls’ from concerned customers. 

Passengers at Gatwick Airport complained of having to wait as long as three hours before being able to pick up their baggage 

Passenger Emma Bromfield said she was subjected to the huge wait after landing and described scenes of ‘absolute chaos’

Her carrier, Canadian airline WestJet, said the issue had been caused by ‘ramp staffing’ at Gatwick, and apologised to customers. Others also took to Twitter to complain of long waits 

Passenger Diego Garcia Rodriguez took this picture of queues to enter security at Gatwick Airport

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Huge queues once again yesterday morning at Bristol Airport which has been badly hit by the airport chaos

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Large queues at Manchester Airport yesterday morning as the airport chaos continues to affect tourists

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Huge queues at the UK Border at London Heathrow yesterday morning as disruption continues

LONDON GATWICK AIRPORT: Passengers endure large queues for check-in at Wizz Air desks at London Gatwick yesterday

EDINBURGH AIRPORT: A picture of huge numbers of suitcases in a cordoned-off area at Edinburgh Airport was tweeted

BIRMINGHAM AIRPORT: Huge queues for security at Birmingham Airport at 5am yesterday as the airport chaos continues

She said: ‘About 30 per cent of all calls that they’re receiving now are from customers that are reading the headlines, have bookings for July and August in the school holidays, and they are worried.’

Ms Bue-Said acknowledged that the situation is ‘hideous and disappointing’ for passengers whose flights are being cancelled. 

Family are ‘left to fend for themselves’… with a £1,000 bill to get home

Jenny O’Hara and her partner should have been back at work yesterday and their three sons at primary school.

Instead, they faced being stuck in the Canary Islands for another week after easyJet suddenly cancelled their return flight and left them struggling to find somewhere to stay on the busy resort.

Jenny O’Hara and her partner Tom with sons Harrison, Rupert and Elyott who are now stuck in the Canary Islands

Miss O’Hara, a project manager from Crowborough, East Sussex, flew to Fuerteventura last Monday for a five-day Tui holiday along with sons Elyott, 11, and Rupert, eight, plus partner Tom Nowell, 37, a marketing manager, and his son Harrison, nine. But when they arrived at the airport on Saturday for their flight home, they were shocked to see it displayed as cancelled.

Airline staff arranged for one night’s accommodation and told them the next available tickets would be on Friday – meaning they would miss a whole week of work and school. She said: ‘It’s been a nightmare end to the holiday. We feel like easyJet have abandoned us. I can’t believe how we’ve been left to fend for ourselves like this.’

Determined to get home sooner, they booked a new flight from Lanzarote scheduled for tomorrow – leaving them out of pocket by more than £1,000 as they also had to pay for another three nights’ accommodation plus the ferry transfer.  Tui said it had not been made aware of the cancellation by easyJet and the airline apologised for the incident.

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But she said travel agents are attempting to reassure customers that ‘in the vast majority of cases flights are departing and arriving’. Ms Bue-Said added: ‘We’re trying to give a bit of perspective.’

She also revealed that the number of people who jetted off during last week’s half-term school holiday was 21 per cent higher than 2019 levels, while summer holiday bookings are at around 80 per cent of normal.

This represents a ‘huge surge in demand’ compared with the previous two years when the industry was ‘shut down’ due to coronavirus restrictions. She said: ‘The significant surge has created a bottleneck in the system.

‘The industry is now working really hard to make sure that over the next few weeks we are building resilience and scaling up as much as we can from a workforce point of view to meet customer demand and, frankly, give them a much better experience in some cases than they’re experiencing now.’

She added: ‘I’m confident that the industry will get to a point where these bottlenecks will be sorted.’

EasyJet said last night that it will continue to axe at least 30 flights a day with passengers set to typically receive just three days’ notice. 

Dozens of the cancellations were made at the last minute and affected customers said they were not being offered alternative flights home for several days.

This is despite them having the right to be booked on an alternative flight as close to their original departure time as possible – even if it is with a rival airline. They are also entitled to food and hotel expenses.

But easyJet customers said it was near impossible to contact customer services in search of answers.

Budget airline Wizz Air also made dozens of cancellations over the weekend. 

British Airways axed more than 100 short-haul flights at Heathrow yesterday, although it stressed that affected passengers were informed several weeks in advance.

Holiday firm Tui is cancelling six daily flights at Manchester until the end of the month.

There were 40 flights cancelled to the UK yesterday, with about 6,535 seats, according to data from Cirium.

Its data claimed that easyJet cancelled 28 and Wizz Air cancelled six. Most flights cancelled were from Spain or the Canary Islands, and then the Netherlands. 

The aviation industry is struggling to cope with the post-pandemic rise in demand for foreign travel at a time of severe staff shortages.

Some operators were accused of letting passengers make bookings that could not be fulfilled.

Father-of-four Joe Murray, from Milton Keynes, booked return flights to Tenerife which were due to land back in the UK tomorrow in time for Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

LONDON GATWICK AIRPORT: Huge queues for check-in on Ryanair flights at London Gatwick Airport yesterday

GLASGOW AIRPORT: Huge queues at Glasgow Airport at 5am yesterday as UK passengers continue to face disruption

LONDON GATWICK AIRPORT: A passenger who tweeted this photograph from Gatwick faced a long wait for security

But his family missed the four-day weekend after Wizz Air cancelled their return flight twice.

Mr Murray, who has four young daughters, said: ‘The curriculum is packed and losing three days from school post-Covid isn’t good. There isn’t time to really catch up.

‘Wizz Air have had since last Wednesday to get us home, have cancelled once while we had checked in and were waiting at the gate, and the other four hours before the flight. It’s not good enough.’

Kelly, a teacher from Lincolnshire, and her husband, who is also a teacher, had their flight home from Montenegro with easyJet cancelled at the last minute on Saturday. They were told Thursday was the earliest they could get back to the UK. 

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘They told us we could have a flight on Thursday.

‘But obviously we’re teachers so we’re very keen to get back to school so there’s less disruption for the children, which is why we’re travelling to a different country [to try to get home sooner].

‘We will have had three bus journeys of about 12 hours in total. Fingers crossed tomorrow easyJet won’t cancel our flight for a second time and we’ll manage to get home.

‘But we’re having to fly into Bristol rather than Gatwick, we’ve then got to get to Gatwick [to collect our car] and then back home to Lincoln.’

A blame game broke out between ministers and the industry over the fiasco last week.

Aviation chiefs sought to point the finger at the Government for not giving enough notice when lifting all Covid travel restrictions in March.

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps accused carriers of ‘poor planning and overbooking flights that they cannot service’.

There are fears of even worse chaos when the peak summer season begins in around six weeks’ time.

Ministers are considering plans to force airlines to give automatic refunds for travel disruption.

Affected travellers, who must apply for compensation manually, have reported waiting several weeks to receive money back.

Some operators have claimed cancellations or delays are not their fault, meaning they are not liable.

Travel consultancy The PC Agency estimated that at least 15,000 passengers were affected by ‘last-minute changes’ to flights on Sunday.

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Huge queues at Manchester Airport Terminal One yesterday as the airport chaos continues

BRISTOL AIRPORT: People wait to check-in at Bristol Airport yesterday amid huge queues once again

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Large queues at Manchester Airport yesterday as the airport chaos continues to affect tourists

Chief executive Paul Charles said this caused ‘major knock-on effects’ and ‘it will take three days to clear the backlog’.

Couple whose easyJet flight from Berlin to Luton was cancelled drove through the night after borrowing relative’s car 

Clare and Christian Engelke, pictured on holiday in Berlin

After Clare and Christian Engelke’s flight home from Berlin to London Luton was cancelled, the couple resorted to borrowing a car and driving through the night to get to work by lunchtime.

When easyJet informed them in a text message on Sunday lunchtime that their 10.55pm flight had been cancelled, there were no alternative flights available until tomorrow.

Needing to get back to work and pick up their 15-year-old daughter – who had been staying with relatives – from school on their return to Codsall near Wolverhampton yesterday, they embarked on an 850-mile overnight dash.

They had to spend £180 on fuel and £178 on the Eurotunnel, and also then had to pick up their car in Luton after paying £10 to extend the parking.

In addition, the couple – who only flew out on Friday to visit friends – still have the car borrowed from company director Mr Engelke’s German parents.

Mrs Engelke, a freelance marketing consultant, said the volume of cancellations had been ‘crazy’.

‘We are lucky we have mobile phones and used our initiative to call on lovely friends who we met in Berlin – seeing them for the first time in three years due to the pandemic – and family in Germany who have lent us a car to get us home,’ she said. ‘We now have a German car in England that we have to take back eventually.’

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He said: ‘We’re now seeing the impact of the weekend’s cancellations with knock-on effects for tens of thousands of travellers.

‘So many flights were never rescheduled after the pandemic, so there often isn’t the frequency of flights to get passengers back quickly if they are affected.

‘We’re going to see a large number of compensation claims from those stuck abroad.

‘Sadly it can take three days to get flights back to normal and get people back.’

Downing Street said ministers and officials had been meeting with aviation industry leaders and Border Force to increase ‘resilience for the sector throughout the summer’ to avert further travel chaos.

But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said it was ultimately down to the aviation industry to address staff shortages.

He added: ‘We fully understand that the aviation industry – like many others – has faced significant challenges during the pandemic.

‘But ultimately they are responsible for making sure they have enough staff to meet demand and we have been clear they must step up recruitment to make sure disruption is kept to a minimum.’

Meanwhile, passengers at Gatwick were left frustrated yesterday when dozens of flights were cancelled.

Departures to Tel Aviv in Israel, Krakow in Poland, Malaga in Spain, and Sicily in Italy were among those affected as the aviation sector continues to be hit by staff shortages.

The late cancellation of the Wizz Air flight to Sicily sparked anger, with security staff stepping in after one man became agitated and started shouting at staff.

Rosie, 28, who did not give her surname, was booked on the flight with her husband and their two children, aged two and 18 months, to visit her husband’s relatives on the Italian island.

The family, from Bognor Regis, West Sussex, were at the departure gate when they were informed the flight had been cancelled.

Rosie said: ‘His family haven’t met our two children yet – because of Covid we haven’t been able to get out there, and I’ve been pregnant so haven’t been able to go. We wanted them to go and meet his family.

‘The whole time we were told our flight was running on time, we then got told our flight was delayed by an hour. We then came to the gate, we all got ushered into the gate group to be told the flight was cancelled.’

She went on: ‘There has been no communication, we’re only getting told now by Wizz Air that our flight’s been cancelled, and it was already meant to be up in the air.’

LONDON GATWICK AIRPORT: Passengers endure large queues in the departures area of London Gatwick yesterday

LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT: This picture of queues for fast track security at Stansted Airport was tweeted yesterday

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Huge queues at Manchester Airport Terminal One yesterday as the airport chaos continues

The couple previously booked trips to Sicily with other airlines, including easyJet, but those flights were also cancelled.

Hopeful travellers still queue for passports 

Desperate holidaymakers branded the UK passport system a ‘shambles’ yesterday as they queued in the rain for travel documents.

Around 100 people were waiting outside the passport office in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, before doors opened at 8am. Some became involved in heated exchanges with officials who went along the queue asking questions and explaining that only those travelling within the next 48 hours would be seen.

People queue at the Peterborough passport office in May (file)

Among those left disappointed – and likely to miss out on her £2,000 holiday to Greece – was Sophie Gregory, 20. The NHS radiologist, who is supposed to be travelling on Sunday, was denied an appointment despite driving for four hours from Wigan, Greater Manchester. 

‘The system doesn’t work. We pay for this and nothing is working because people can’t get passports,’ she said. ‘You can’t get an appointment online and there’s no one to speak to. We might have to risk it at the airport.’

David Kolodynski, from Nottingham, was hoping to get a passport for his ten-year-old son before their £3,000 holiday to Egypt tomorrow. However, he was told that his application wouldn’t be considered as it was made less than six weeks ago. The housing officer said: ‘This is a shambles. The system is broken. They need to get more staff and more money in.’

A Home Office spokesman said 90 per cent of passport applications have been completed within six weeks.

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Kevin Wood, 51, from Hampshire, was due to travel on the Wizz Air flight with his wife, Emma. Mr Wood said there had been ‘no help at all’ from the airline.

‘We were hoping, since the holiday weekend was finished, that things perhaps have calmed down a bit, but clearly not,’ he said.

The couple were given a number to call for further support, which they said ‘didn’t seem to work’.

Wizz Air said in a statement: ‘We are so sorry that too many of our passengers are being subjected to current delays and, in some cases, cancellations.

‘Across the travel industry Wizz Air and every airline is doing as much as we all can to help as many passengers as possible reach their destinations in time and with minimal delay.

‘However, amongst other issues causing operational instability throughout the travel industry, there is a widespread shortage in staff, in particular within air traffic control, ground operations and baggage handling, security and across airports.

‘Wizz Air has increased direct communications with all our customers through text, email and phone calls to ensure – as much as possible – that they are best informed of any changes in our services.’

The airline said affected passengers are being offered ‘a range of options’ including alternative flights with Wizz Air, a full refund or 120 per cent in credit to use on a future Wizz Air booking.

Under UK consumer law, if an airline cancels a flight it must offer to rebook passengers on a route that will get them to their final destination as close to their planned arrival time as possible, even if that is with a different carrier.

Elsewhere, Matt Wheeler, 37, a train driver from Nottingham, said he and his partner had to make emergency childcare arrangements after finding out their easyJet flight home from Amsterdam had been cancelled yesterday morning.

‘It’s a farce… didn’t know about the cancellation until we arrived at the airport at 3.30am, no easyJet staff or any staff that could help us,’ Mr Wheeler said.

‘We now have to try and arrange family members to pick our kids up from school/childminders this afternoon and then have them overnight and take them to school tomorrow.

‘They’ll have to take time off work (and) we will now miss a day’s work tomorrow as we won’t be home.’

Mr Wheeler said they have been put in a hotel and booked onto a Tuesday morning flight, but added ‘it’s the lack of communication and no one at the airport to speak to that’s annoying – and the fact this could happen again tomorrow.’

LONDON GATWICK AIRPORT: Passengers endure large queues at London Gatwick Airport yet again yesterday 

BRISTOL AIRPORT: People sleep on benches in a cafe at Bristol Airport yesterday amid further huge queues  

GLASGOW AIRPORT: Passengers at Glagsow Airport wait for check-in desks to open after arriving there early yesterday

And a traveller at London’s Stansted Airport has said he had to queue for two hours in the afternoon to get through passport control.

Tube chaos continues as commuters face ANOTHER gruelling journey to work as militant union shuts down London Underground for start of rush hour 

People at bus stop in London yesterday during the Tube strike

Commuters endured another gruelling journey to work across London yesterday morning as some 4,000 Tube workers continued their strike until 8am – with services likely to be affected for much of the day as they try to recover. 

Fed-up Londoners will have to take much longer routes by bus or splash out on taxis and Ubers, likely adding to the capital’s traffic and pollution levels. 

The strike action has been ordered by the militant Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) due to an ongoing dispute over jobs and pensions. 

They believe up to 600 jobs and their pension scheme are under threat from a cash-strapped Transport for London (TfL), which a union leader yesterday claimed is ‘bankrupt’ and in need of £500m by March next year.

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Charles Levenson, a 25-year-old teacher from north London, was travelling home from Berlin, Germany, when he was caught in the disruption.

‘When I got there the queue was chaotic and (a complete) standstill,’ he said. ‘Nowhere near enough queue barriers had been set up so everyone was starting to squish together and it was very hot.

‘Tannoy announced they’re sorry for inconvenience and the crowd actually erupted in sarcastic laughter.’

Georgie Calle, 29, from St Albans in Hertfordshire, had her plans to see her unwell grandfather yesterday thrown into disarray after running into difficulties with an easyJet flight from Dalaman Airport in Turkey.

Having paid around £900 for their flights, Ms Calle said she and her partner were told their Sunday journey – a 10.40pm trip to London Luton – had been overbooked, at which point they were made to wait in the airport to see if a seat became available.

The flight was eventually rescheduled for Monday, something Ms Calle was unaware of overnight – the pair slept at the airport instead.

‘We were made to feel like we weren’t as valued as the people who had somehow magically got onto the flight,’ she said yesterday. ‘I’ve had 20 minutes’ sleep in the last 24 hours, my partner’s had 10 minutes’ sleep.

‘Never had a problem with easyJet before and actually you feel that they really let you down. They took us out here, they knew we were out here.

‘The whole thing has just been horrendous and really stressful, and something that you quite honestly don’t need when you’ve got your mum who’s devastated that her dad’s about to die.’

After cancelling dozens of flights over the weekend, easyJet scrapped a further 37 yesterday, with Gatwick the worst affected.

These included flights from destinations such as Bilbao, Madrid and Seville in Spain, Milan and Palermo in Italy, Geneva and Zurich in Switzerland, and Malta.

An easyJet spokesman said yesterday: ‘EasyJet is operating over 1,700 flights today carrying almost 300,000 customers.

‘Unfortunately, due to the ongoing challenging operating environment around 37 flights have been cancelled today ahead of customers arriving at the airport.

‘We are very sorry and fully understand the disruption this will have caused for our customers.’

Some 225 departures from UK airports were cancelled between Monday and Friday last week, according to aviation data firm Cirium. That compares with 24 during the corresponding half-term week last year.

Stranded Brits told they face being stuck abroad for DAYS: Airlines warn holidaymakers hit by last-minute cancellations they face long wait to return to UK 

By Mark Duell for MailOnline 

Thousands of British holidaymakers again faced chaos again at UK airports yesterday as easyJet cancelled nearly 50 more flights, while other families stranded in Europe were scrambling to get home after being told there were no seats available on flights for several days.

Travellers crossed borders instead of waiting as they raced to return to work and school after half-term. Some whose flights were cancelled on Saturday were told it would take until Friday for the next available seats, and so were forced to spend hundreds of pounds for new flights or other modes of transport such as Eurostar trains.

Among them were teachers needing to get back to the classroom and A-level pupils who risk missing exams after easyJet cancelled more than 300 flights across Europe in the past three days, with more than 2,000 delayed.

Families impacted including the O’Hara family from Sussex whose easyJet flight home from Fuerteventura on Saturday was cancelled – with the next available tickets on Friday. A couple from Lincolnshire also had an easyJet flight home from Montenegro cancelled on Saturday, and were told Thursday was the earliest they could get back.

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Huge queues once again yesterday at Bristol Airport which has been badly hit by the airport chaos

It comes as travel agents are being inundated with phone calls from customers fearing their summer holidays will be disrupted, with about a third of calls at present being from those worried about bookings for July and August.

EasyJet axed 46 flights, including 20 at Gatwick and seven at Luton. The Gatwick departures were flights to Amsterdam, Luqa, Rijeka, Copenhagen, Bastia, Nantes, Milan and Bordeaux – and the arrivals were from Gran Canaria, Pafos, Lanzarote, Kos, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Rijeka, Luqa, Bastia, Nantes, Bordeaux and Milan.

Wizz Air also cancelled two arrivals at Gatwick from Tel Aviv and Faro. At Luton, there were three easyJet arrivals cancelled from Amsterdam, Lisbon and Palermo; and four departures to Bristol, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Palermo.

Bristol Airport, which has been one of the worst-hit airports, was badly affected again with a total of 16 easyJet cancellations – including seven departures to Split, Pula, Edinburgh, Inverness, Olbia, Bilbao and Geneva; and nine arrivals from Alicante, Palma de Mallorca, Luton, Edinburgh, Pula, Split, Bucharest, Inverness and Bilbao.

In Scotland, easyJet also cancelled four flights at Edinburgh and four flights at Glasgow – all of which were arrivals or departures to Bristol or Amsterdam. At Inverness, one departure and arrival from Bristol were axed.

While the total number of cancelled easyJet flights at airports was 53, the actual total is 46 because seven are duplicates – ie Edinburgh to Bristol is listed twice, once as an Edinburgh departure and once as a Bristol arrival.

Some 124 British Airways flights at London Heathrow Airport were cancelled, although the airline stressed that affected passengers were given plenty of advance notice with these services all axed a few months ago.

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Large queues at Manchester Airport yesterday as the airport chaos continues to affect tourists

UK airline passengers have been hit by disruption for several months due to a lack of staff after the companies let thousands of people go during the pandemic. Airlines, airports and ground handling firms are now struggling to recruit new staff and have their security checks processed amid a surge in demand since restrictions were lifted.

Among those caught up in the chaos yesterday was Diego Garcia Rodriguez, 32, a Spanish national who lives in Brighton. He told how passengers were left in tears at Gatwick due to the last-minute cancellations, adding: ‘I’m flying from Gatwick to Barcelona and I was at the airport three hours before but almost didn’t make it to board.

‘The flight hasn’t been delayed so far but I have seen lots of people whose flights have been cancelled, some crying and stressing out and they only got the news after having gone through the security control so they didn’t know how to get out. There was no information and it was all very chaotic.’

Meanwhile, hundreds of check-in and ground staff employed by British Airways at Heathrow began voting yesterday on a summer of strike action. Members of the Unite and GMB unions are being balloted in a dispute over pay.

Also, Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, which represents independent travel agents, said that its members are receiving ‘a significant number of calls’ from concerned customers.

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