Hundreds face cancelled flights as union chief warns Leeds Bradford Airport travel chaos 'could get worse before it gets better'
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Airlines across the UK have been forced to cancel flights this week as staff shortages, air traffic control restrictions and airport handling delays begin to take their toll.
This has left many passengers out of pocket and without their half term holiday, with union chiefs warning that the situation could get worse.
Holidaymakers have had to contend with waves of flight cancellations and long queues at airports such as Leeds Bradford, Heathrow and Manchester over the last few months and on Tuesday evening, transport secretary Grant Shapps demanded a meeting with aviation bosses to find out 'what’s gone wrong'.
But deputy general secretary of Prospect union, Garry Graham, who represent thousands of staff across the aviation industry, has hit back at the Government for ignoring warnings.
"Unions warned the Government and aviation employers repeatedly that slashing staff through the crisis would lead to problems with the ramp up post-pandemic," he said.
"The government point to the furlough scheme but ignore 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."
Britain’s largest holiday company TUI announced on Tuesday that it had cancelled almost 200 flights between now and the end of next month. While at least 31 easyJet flights were scrapped at Gatwick on Tuesday.
In total, some 291 departures from major UK airports have been cancelled in the last seven days, according to the aviation data firm Cirium.
With summer fast approaching and July set to bring its usual influx of travellers, Prospect are concerned that the situation might only get worse.
"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." Mr Graham added.
Travellers flying out of Leeds Bradford Airport have been left queuing out the terminal building in recent weeks as security personnel worked to get people through.
"Avoid Leeds-Bradford at all costs, this feels more like a cow market than an airport." tweeted one particularly frustrated flyer.
LBA are recommending passengers:
Arrive early - Passengers are advised to arrive at the airport three hours prior to their flight departure time.
Prepare your carry-on baggage - Remove all large electronic devices, carry liquids and gels less than 100ml in a one litre zip lock bag.
Empty your pockets - Remove all items from pockets, remove any jackets or coats and remove any boots or high heeled shoes and put them and pocket contents through the x-ray machines.