Europe

Airport chaos as TUI cancels MORE flights – ‘Could get worse before it gets better’

The full list of TUI flights delayed or cancelled amid travel chaos

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The German holiday giant apologised for the disruption over the past few days and announced that due to “to ongoing challenges” a “small number” of flights would be axed. It said that 200 flights between now and June 30 from Manchester Airport would be cancelled.

Passengers hoping to get away for the half term and Platinum Jubilee weekend have faced long delays and cancellations this week.

EasyJet and British Airways are cancelling flights every day and passengers at Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Bristol have faced long delays after thousands of staff were sacked during the pandemic.

The Prospect Trade union, which represents thousands of staff across air traffic control, in airports and in aviation engineering, said things could get worse before they get better.

Deputy general secretary Garry Graham said that his union had warned the Government and airports that sacking staff could lead to shortages in the future.

He said: “Unions warned the Government and aviation employers repeatedly that slashing staff through the crisis would lead to problems with the ramp-up post-pandemic.

“The Government points to the furlough scheme but ignores that it ended well before the majority of international restrictions on travel came to an end.

“Now we see staff shortages across the industry, with huge reliance on overtime to get by day-to-day.

“In many areas, like air traffic control, overtime is only a temporary sticking plaster. 

“So, things could get worse this summer before they get better.”

An issue airports are facing is security clearance for new staff is taking longer up to three months rather than the usual three to four weeks, according to Willie Walsh, director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and former BA boss.

Ministers tweaked legislation last month to allow staff to start training before passing security checks but have ruled out easing visa rules to allow more workers from the EU.

Ministers have blamed airlines and airports, claiming that they had warned them for months to get ready for the holiday rush. 

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Lord Parkinson, the arts minister, told Sky News: “We have been on a long pathway back to recovery so that people can enjoy this moment and [companies] should be making sure that people are able to get away on holiday and enjoy it fully.

“We have been, for many months, urging them to make sure they’ve got enough staff.”

Meanwhile, morale amongst airport staff is low with one ground handler in the Midlands telling The Times the situation was a “shambles” and that understaffing could lead to deaths.

They said: ” Somebody is going to end up dying and accidents are already happening.

“There are people rushing between planes, not following the right procedures.

“I believe that this has been a long time coming. This isn’t even all to do with the pandemic.

“They [aviation companies] have slashed and slashed and slashed and when the pandemic kicked in they culled the sector. It’s that unattractive now that nobody wants to work there.

“People think that they will take a job and just get sacked after six months. The mood is crap.”

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