GATWICK: EasyJet passenger Debbie Shipley was scheduled to depart from Gatwick at 5:55am, however after a 'two hour delay' she found herself 'locked in a stairwell' alongside several other passengers

Furious holidaymakers continue to face chaos across Britain’s travel hubs today as  Heathrow cancelled another 61 flights at the eleventh hour – disrupting 10,000 passengers.

Airlines have been asked not to rebook affected travellers onto alternative flights departing on Monday.

Baggage system failures at Terminal 3 over the weekend resulted in hundreds of bags not being put on to flights.

Affected passengers are not entitled to compensation from airlines as the reason for the cancellation is classified as being outside of their control. The measure caused Virgin Atlantic to cancel two arrivals and one departure today.

A Heathrow spokeswoman said: ‘We are expecting higher passenger numbers in Terminals 3 and 5 today than the airport currently has capacity to serve, and so to maintain a safe operation we have asked some airlines in Terminals 3 and 5 to remove a combined total of 61 flights from the schedule.

‘We apologise for the impact to travel plans and we are working closely with airlines to get affected passengers rebooked on to other flights.

‘While Heathrow is ramping up resource and will have as many security officers this summer as we had pre-pandemic, airspace constraints across Europe and a lack of airline ground-handling staff can pose a risk to the smooth running of operations.

‘As a result, we will take action where needed to ensure passengers receive the service level they deserve.’

Holidaymaker Kevin Maher tweeted: ‘Holiday to Orlando with Virgin but disaster at Heathrow airport yesterday – three hours to get through security and all four suitcases didn’t make it to MCO. Two small children, my wife’s birthday today, and a ruined start to Disney. Richard Branson, I am losing all faith in you – your staff!’ 

Meanwhile passengers at Gatwick suffered a two-hour delay – with ’40 people left waiting’ on a stairwell in 75F (24C) heat.

GATWICK: EasyJet passenger Debbie Shipley was scheduled to depart from Gatwick at 5:55am, however after a ‘two hour delay’ she found herself ‘locked in a stairwell’ alongside several other passengers

GATWICK: Easyjet passenger Stephanie Bosset tweeted: ‘We landed 40min ago and still can’t disembark. We have to wait another 30 min for the buses to the terminal. We’re all going to miss the one train that wasn’t cancelled (and the last one). Unbelievable’

GATWICK: Holidaymakers suffer two-hour wait for flight out of Gatwick only to be ‘locked in a staircase’

GATWICK: EasyJet passenger Sophie Lain said she had ‘been sat on the floor for two hours’ waiting for a bus to take her from the gate to the plane

GATWICK: Passengers have reported being left on the stairs in the 24C heatwave this morning

Travellers have complained of ‘no available buses’, ‘two hour delays’ to collect their luggage and ’empty hand sanitisers’ across Gatwick airport as the ongoing aviation staffing crisis continues to cause mayhem.

EasyJet passenger Debbie Shipley was scheduled to depart from Gatwick at 5:55am, however after a ‘two hour delay’ she found herself ‘locked in a stairwell’ alongside several other passengers. 

She tweeted: ‘I would like to know if it’s ok to lock 40 people in a stairwell? We’re still here after we were meant to go at 5.55am. What I would like to know is Gatwick’s health and safety procedures for locking 40 odd people in a stairwell.’

EasyJet passenger Sophie Lain said she had ‘been sat on the floor for two hours’ waiting for a bus to take her from the gate to the plane.

She wrote: At Gatwick airport the plane is ready, the EasyJet crew are waiting for us – but you have no buses to take us from the gate to the plane, so we’ve been sitting on the floor for nearly two hours.’

A Gatwick spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We apologise to passengers who may have had to wait longer than usual to be coached to/from aircraft last night. Unfortunately this was caused by a combined shortage of both ground handlers and coach drivers, due to staff sickness.’ 

Other Britons complained about Gatwick’s ’embarrassing service’ amid long delays. 

Michael Crotty said: ’20 hand sanitiser dispensers upstairs and downstairs in the south terminal. Not one has anything in them.’

Another user, named JC, added: ‘Still waiting a hour and no luggage!!! No working vending machines or facilities… Just an embarrassing mess. It took two hours from landing to get our bags’.

HEATHROW: Heathrow Airport, which handled nearly six million passengers in June, will review ‘schedule changes’ made by airlines and ‘take further action’ if the ongoing travel chaos does not ease

MANCHESTER: There have been repeated complaints about long queues for security across UK airports while a shortage of baggage handlers have led to long delays in people collecting their luggage

HEATHROW: Heathrow was today named as one of three worst airports in UK for flight delays with planes taking off 11 minutes and 48 seconds late on average

Heathrow Airport, which handled nearly six million passengers in June, will review ‘schedule changes’ made by airlines and ‘take further action’ if the ongoing travel chaos does not ease. 

Carriers were ordered by the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority last month to make sure their timetables are ‘deliverable’ after the sector was unable to cope with demand during the Platinum Jubilee half-term school holiday period.

The punctuality of arriving flights is ‘very low’ and there have been ‘periods in recent weeks where service levels have not been acceptable’, Heathrow admitted.

Heathrow was today named as one of three worst airports in UK for flight delays with planes taking off 11 minutes and 48 seconds late on average. 

The number of passengers who travelled through Heathrow during the first half of the year was 25 million, which is more than six times higher than the same period in 2021. 

It comes after months of chaotic delays at Britain’s travel hubs as airports across the country struggle to cope with high number of passengers attempting to fly abroad after Covid restrictions were eased.

There have been repeated complaints about long queues for security across UK airports while a shortage of baggage handlers have led to long delays in people collecting their luggage. The threat of strikes across Europe by airline employees and pilots is also adding to the woes. 

Meanwhile, Wizz Air has said it will cut its capacity by another 5 per cent as part of efforts to avoid flight cancellations and delays.

Wizz Air said: ‘To be able to avoid cancellations and secure a more punctual operation to our customers, we have further improved the agility and resilience of our network including adjusting schedules where we have seen a higher occurrence of issues.

‘In total for the peak summer period we expect to reduce utilisation a further 5% versus the plan outlined at the full year results to reduce the impact of ongoing external disruptions.’

Despite this, Wizz Air said it was set for a boost in demand over the summer and is forecasting a ‘material’ operating profit in its July to September quarter.

Heathrow said rebuilding flight capacity quickly is ‘very challenging’ after the ‘significant reductions in resource across the entire aviation supply chain’ due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: ‘We have already seen times recently when demand exceeds the capacity of the airport, airlines and ground handlers.

‘We will review the schedule changes that airlines have submitted in response to the Government’s requirement to minimise disruption for passengers this summer and will ask them to take further action if necessary.

‘We want everyone who is travelling through Heathrow to be confident that they will have a safe and reliable journey.’

Problems with the punctuality of arrivals are due to airspace congestion and delays at other airports which has ‘compounded the challenge of resource constraints for the airport, airlines, ground handlers and government agencies’.

MANCHESTER: Over the weekend furious passengers took to Twitter to complain about the ‘unbelievably long delays’ 

MANCHESTER: In the early hours of Saturday, a man was pictured at check-in lying on the seats 

Manchester: A message from airport staff over the tannoy on Saturday apologised to passengers for a baggage handling problem which has caused yet more delays

MANCHESTER: Queues of passengers were pictured at Manchester airport on Saturday morning 

The full ranking of UK airports based on flight punctuality in 2021: 

Flights from Birmingham airport had the longest delays in the UK last year as figures show planes took off 12 mins and 24 seconds late on average. 

Below airports are ordered from the longest average delay per flight to the shortest (duration in brackets).

The ranking takes into account all scheduled and chartered departures. Cancelled flights are not included:

1. Birmingham (12 minutes and 24 seconds)

2. Southampton (12 minutes)

3. Heathrow (11 minutes and 48 seconds)

4. Exeter (11 minutes and 12 seconds)

5. Aberdeen (10 minutes and 36 seconds)

6. Doncaster Sheffield (10 minutes and 18 seconds)

7. Luton (nine minutes and 42 seconds)

8. Manchester (nine minutes and 30 seconds)

9. Glasgow (eight minutes and 30 seconds)

10. Leeds Bradford (seven minutes and 42 seconds)

11. Newcastle (seven minutes and 24 seconds)

12. Bournemouth (seven minutes and 18 seconds)

13. Edinburgh (seven minutes and 12 seconds)

14. Liverpool (John Lennon) (seven minutes and six seconds)

15. Cardiff (six minutes and 48 seconds)

16. London City (six minutes and 12 seconds)

17. Bristol (six minutes and six seconds)

18. Stansted (six minutes)

19. East Midlands International (six minutes)

20. Gatwick (five minutes and 54 seconds)

21. George Best Belfast City (four minutes and 54 seconds)

22. Teesside International (four minutes and 48 seconds)

23. Belfast International (four minutes and 30 seconds)

24. Southend (two minutes and 48 seconds)

Heathrow issued an apology to ‘any passengers who have been affected’ by disruption, but added that ‘we have been able to provide a good level of service for the vast majority of passengers’.

The airport, who started recruiting staff back in November, predicts they will have as many people working in security as they did pre-pandemic by the end of the month. 

Mr Holland-Kaye said the airport experienced ‘exponential growth’ last month, with nearly six million passengers.

In terms of passenger numbers, Heathrow has recorded ‘the equivalent of 40 years of growth in just four months’, he added.

‘I am very proud of the way that our team is rising to the challenge of growth, and giving excellent service to the vast majority of passengers.’

The warning to cancel even more flights comes as Birmingham Airport was found to be the worst in the UK for flight delays last year.

Departures from the West Midlands airport were an average of 12 minutes and 24 seconds late taking-off in 2021, according to analysis of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data by the PA news agency.

Southampton Airport had the second poorest record, followed by Heathrow, Exeter and Aberdeen airports.

The ranking takes into account all scheduled and chartered departures. Cancelled flights are not included.

Birmingham Airport stressed that many of its delayed departures were able to make up time in the air because of the huge reduction in flight numbers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesman said: ‘Last year was a dark time for aviation when Birmingham Airport was reduced to just 25% of normal resource and capacity due to Covid.

‘Due to the unique operating environment caused by massive air traffic reductions, the usual pressures did not exist, so flights taking off late were able to catch up en route.’

Birmingham is the UK’s seventh busiest airport, serving long-haul destinations including Dubai, Mexico, the Caribbean and the US, as well as more than 100 short-haul routes.

It hosts bases for airlines such as Jet2.com, Ryanair and Tui Airways.

The BBC recently reported that the annual wage of the airport’s chief executive Nick Barton rose by 49 per cent from £399,000 to £595,000 last year.

This angered trade unions as it came after widespread job cuts due to the pandemic, but the airport – which is part-owned by several of the region’s councils – insisted its senior management is paid in line with market rates.

The airport was used by 12.6 million passengers in 2019, before the pandemic, but just 2.5 million last year.

HEATHROW: The airport today put out a tweet advising customers to arrive at the airport at least ‘three hours’ before their flight time

HEATHROW: Lengthy queues were seen at Heathrow on Friday amid ongoing staff shortages 

HEATHROW: Punctuality across all UK airports in 2021 was better than before the virus crisis, due to the reduction in flights caused by travel restrictions, experts have revealed

HEATHROW: 

HEATHROW:  

Punctuality across all UK airports in 2021 was better than before the virus crisis, due to the reduction in flights caused by travel restrictions.

Jo Rhodes, an expert for consumer magazine Which? Travel, said 2022 ‘has been a different story entirely’ as the sector is struggling to cope with the spike in passenger numbers.

She said: ‘Holidaymakers have endured wide-scale flight cancellations as well as unacceptably long queues at check-in, bag drop and airport security.

‘The Government must take action to restore consumer confidence in travel. That should involve stronger powers for the CAA, including the ability to fine airlines directly when they break the law.

‘Ministers should also drop their ill-conceived plans to slash compensation rates for delayed or cancelled domestic flights.’

Meanwhile, the price of an airline ticket will go up ‘without a doubt’ as inflation pushes up fuel costs, Willie Walsh, ex British Airways chief and director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), warned on Sunday.

Oil prices have jumped lately with the war in Ukraine disrupting supplies while simultaneously the global economic recovery from the Covid pandemic boosts demand. 

Willie Walsh on Sunday Morning said that the price of an airline ticket will go up ‘without a doubt’ as inflation pushes up fuel costs

‘Flying will be more expensive for consumers, without doubt’, he said on the BBC Sunday Morning programme, adding that the ‘high price of oil’ will be ‘reflected in higher ticket prices’. 

The higher costs that families looking to book getaways will incur comes on top of the raft of delays and cancellations that they have had to endure so far in a chaotic summer for the airline industry. 

Meanwhile, inaction from Rishi Sunak and Grant Shapps – who are both Tory leadership hopefuls – contributed to the ‘predictable’ and ‘preventable’ delays and cancellations that have crippled airports across the country, the boss of a leading airline services company has said.

Philipp Joeinig, chief executive of Menzies Aviation, says requests from the industry for Government help in minimising staff shortages fuelled by Brexit and the pandemic have not resulted in ‘forthcoming’ help, exacerbating the current crisis.

Mr Joeinig said the industry unsuccessfully lobbied the Treasury during the pandemic, with Mr Sunak then serving as chancellor, for targeted aid following the end of the Government’s furlough schemes.

Inaction from Rishi Sunak and Grant Shapps – who are both Tory leadership hopefuls – contributed to the ‘predictable’ and ‘preventable’ delays and cancellations that have crippled airports across the country, the boss of a leading airline services company has said

Writing in The Times, he said: ‘The present travel disruption is not because of a single point of failure, with staffing issues affecting the whole market. Not only was this predictable, it was also preventable. Brexit had a big negative impact, reducing the available pool of employees.

‘This was compounded during the pandemic, with the British aviation sector suffering huge job losses once furlough schemes ended before the easing of travel restrictions – and with many of these people lost to the industry forever.

‘The aviation sector lobbied the government at the time to provide sector-specific aid to retain its skilled, security-cleared people to avoid staff shortages. This was not forthcoming for aviation services businesses.’

Mr Joeinig also called on Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to provide ‘practical action’ from the Government to urgently address staff shortages.

He said: ‘We support the intention of the Government’s 22-point action plan to tackle travel disruption, but we call on it to recognise aviation as a special case.

‘It should allow the sector time to recruit beyond the UK by adding aviation workers to the shortage occupation list.

HEATHROW: Crowds of passengers at Heathrow Airport in west London as travel chaos continues due to staff shortages and strikes

HEATHROW: People facing more delays at terminal 2 Heathrow Airport last week with delays and some cancelations

HEATHROW: Flight punctuality has plummeted in recent months as airlines and airports struggle to cope with the spike in demand for travel

HEATHROW: Some passengers at Heathrow resorted to sleeping on the floor as they waited for their flights to board last week

‘We also need a reduction in reference checks and a fast-track process introduced without delay, with mutual recognition by authorities of security training and employee background records.’

Mr Shapps published a 22-point plan to tackle flight disruption last month. This included encouraging airlines to make sure their schedule are ‘deliverable’, an amnesty on airport slot rules and permitting new aviation workers to begin training before passing security checks.

The Government is analysing feedback after consulting on reforms such as increasing the CAA’s enforcement powers and amending compensation rules for domestic flights.

Airlines such as British Airways and easyJet have cancelled thousands of flights in recent weeks amid fears that chaotic scenes at airports will return during the peak school holiday season.

Schools in Scotland and Northern Ireland have already broken up for summer, while the academic year for those in England and Wales ends in around a fortnight.

MailOnline has contacted EasyJet for comment. 

Government inaction contributed to Britian’s airports crisis, leading airline services company says

Inaction from Rishi Sunak and Grant Shapps contributed to the ‘predictable’ and ‘preventable’ delays and cancellations that have crippled airports across the country, the boss of a leading airline services company has said.

The aviation industry is suffering major disruption as a surge in demand for travel coincides with staffing issues across roles such as airline crew, ground handlers, airport security staff and air traffic controllers.

Thousands of flights have been cancelled and many passengers have been forced to wait for several hours in long queues at airports.

Philipp Joeinig, chief executive of Menzies Aviation, says requests from the industry for Government help in minimising staff shortages fuelled by Brexit and the pandemic have not resulted in ‘forthcoming’ help, exacerbating the current crisis.

Mr Joeinig said the industry unsuccessfully lobbied the Treasury during the pandemic, with Mr Sunak then serving as chancellor, for targeted aid following the end of the Government’s furlough schemes.

Writing in The Times, he said: ‘The present travel disruption is not because of a single point of failure, with staffing issues affecting the whole market. Not only was this predictable, it was also preventable.

‘Brexit had a big negative impact, reducing the available pool of employees.

‘This was compounded during the pandemic, with the British aviation sector suffering huge job losses once furlough schemes ended before the easing of travel restrictions – and with many of these people lost to the industry forever.

‘The aviation sector lobbied the government at the time to provide sector-specific aid to retain its skilled, security-cleared people to avoid staff shortages. This was not forthcoming for aviation services businesses.’

Mr Joeinig also called on Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to provide ‘practical action’ from the Government to urgently address staff shortages.

He said: ‘We support the intention of the Government’s 22-point action plan to tackle travel disruption, but we call on it to recognise aviation as a special case.

‘It should allow the sector time to recruit beyond the UK by adding aviation workers to the shortage occupation list.

‘We also need a reduction in reference checks and a fast-track process introduced without delay, with mutual recognition by authorities of security training and employee background records.’

Both Mr Sunak and Mr Shapps have put their names forward as candidates to replace Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

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By Jon Doe