Grant Shapps grilled about travel chaos in UK airports
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On Friday, easyJet cancelled a further 60 flights out of Gatwick, affecting some 10,000 passengers hoping to travel over the weekend. Other airlines, including British Airways, Wizz Air and Vueling, have also issued widespread cancellations, bringing further chaos to the embattled aviation industry in the post-Covid holiday season. The disruptions have been blamed on COVID-19, when thousands of employees were let go by airlines in a bid to deal with the lack of travel due to social distancing restrictions.
The pandemic saw £8billion of state support given to the aviation industry, including furlough for staff while travel restrictions were enforced.
Speaking on the issue after a meeting with aviation industry leaders, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s meeting was a chance to hear from airports and airlines first-hand what went wrong this week.
“The scenes we’re witnessing at airports are heart-breaking, with holidaymakers missing out on their first trips abroad after the pandemic.
He added: “We will continue to monitor the situation closely to make sure consumers don’t lose out from any further disruption.”
However, Mr Shapps did rebuke the travel industry for what he referred to as “poor planning and overbooked flights that they cannot service.”
He added: “Both myself and the Aviation Minister have made the changes needed to allow the sector to prepare for summer, but now we need industry to do their bit.”
Chief Executive of Airlines UK Tim Alderslade said: “We want to work collaboratively with ministers to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, in good time for the summer peak and it was good to discuss options with the Transport Secretary during what was a productive meeting.”
However, concerns are now growing of further blows to the travel industry, as people reconsider plans to travel abroad for fear they may too be subject to disruptions and dashed dreams.
In a poll that ran from 9:07am on Thursday, June 9, to 11:07am on Monday, June 13, Express.co.uk asked: “Are you still going on holiday despite latest travel chaos?”
A total of 1,565 people responded with 64 percent (1,005 people) answering “no”, they would not be taking a holiday.
A further 33 percent (516 people) said “yes”, and just 44 people said that they did not know.
Below the accompanying article, readers shared their thoughts on the travel predicament, including the latest scenes of chaos, the pandemic, and the price.
One reader, with the username the oldone, offered some helpful advice: “Just remember a couple of things before you go – you need to have access to plenty of money if you can not get back for some time and although your boss might be sympathetic, employment law does permit a company to treat members of staff as ‘self dismissed’ who do not turn up for work after three days from the end of their vacation time.
Another reader with the username Broken Britain took issue with the travel agencies themselves, saying: “I notice holiday firms still advertising holidays knowing they can’t cope with them, utter shambles.”
Others, however, placed the blame at the foot of the Government.
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Username Euparadise wrote: “Some 30 percent of jobs in the UK aviation sector were filled by EU citizens before the pandemic – which was BEFORE the Brexit withdrawal agreement took effect at the start of 2021.
“The industry now needs to attract those EU workers back, But the Government won’t help the sector and continues to put up hurdles to hiring…”
“What utter lunacy – delivered by a totally incompetent UK Government!”
Others, however, pointed out that, with the soaring cost of living, holidays weren’t an option anyway.
One reader, username Foxxx said: “Who can afford a holiday?”
And username Daltonex had a similar sentiment, saying: “Amazed people can afford holidays at the moment. Good luck to them.”
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