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By Mark Duell for MailOnline
Thousands of British holidaymakers again faced chaos again at UK airports today 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 this morning 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 today, 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 today 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 today – 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 today is 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 today, 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 this morning 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 this 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 today on a summer of strike action. Members of the Unite and GMB unions are being balloted in a dispute over pay.
Also today, 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.