• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Travel updates live – Thousands stranded abroad as Khan blames Brexit for flight chaos

·11-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Tens of thousands of Britons are stranded across airports all over Europe after yet another series of flight cancellations as the half-term travel chaos shows no signs of abating.

Many families and couples were due to return to the UK on Saturday but 100 flights were cancelled due to the ongoing issues with staff shortages that have plagued airports for months.

Dozens of flights have already been cancellled on Sunday, with the biggest issue at Gatwick where Wizz Air, British Airways and easyJet have grounded flights.

The lengthy queues, mass cancellations and horrendous delays passengers faced are the fault of Brexit, London mayor Sadiq Khan has said.

He has called on the government to relax immigration rules and allow European workers who were employed in the aviation industry before Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic to return in order to plug the labour shortage in the sector.

However, transport minister Grant Shapps outright dismissed calls to open the door to more “cheap” foreign workers in a bid to relieve the pressure on the aviation sector.

He accused travel bosses of “cutting too far” during the pandemic and said it was up to the sector to solve the issues.

Key Points

  • Tens of thousands stranded in half-term flight cancellation chaos

  • Brexit to blame for airports chaos, says Sadiq Khan

Blog closed

19:08 , Joe Middleton

The travel coverage blog is now closed.

More immigration not the answer to airport travel chaos, says Shapps

17:57 , Joe Middleton

The Transport Secretary has rejected calls to open the door to more “cheap” foreign workers in a bid to relieve the pressure on the aviation sector.

Air passengers have faced days of disruption at Britain’s airports, with a total of 20 flights listed as cancelled at Gatwick Airport on Saturday, while 17 were marked as delayed.

Grant Shapps said he will “do absolutely everything possible to make sure” holidaymakers are able to get away without issues during the summer but stopped short of allowing a temporary migration influx to bridge the labour shortage.

More immigration not the answer to airport travel chaos, says Shapps

Eurostar recommends passengers ‘postpone trips’ due to power failure

17:15 , Joe Middleton

In a tweet they said: “Due to a power problem in the Paris region, all our trains to and from Paris are subject to severe delays and cancellations. We strongly recommend all our passengers to postpone their trip if possible.”

Unite boss blames government’s failure to attach job guarantees to furlough money for travel chaos

16:34 , Joe Middleton

Unite boss Sharon Graham has blamed the government’s failure to attach job guarantees to Covid furlough money for the travel chaos passengers have faced.

She said on Twitter: “This shambles is on @GOVUK‘s failure to attach job guarantees to the £8billion in furlough wages it gave to airlines.

“There is now a chronic shortage of staff, if travel bosses don’t get their act together, this chaos could go on until next year.”

What are my consumer rights if my flight has been cancelled?

16:07 , Joe Middleton

Dozens of flights are being cancelled by airlines each day due to staff shortages and absences due to sickness.

British Airways, easyJet and Tui have all made the decision to cut back their summer schedules, with most routes being cancelled in advance and passengers notified.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder runs through your consumer rights if your flight is cancelled.

What are my consumer rights if my flight is cancelled?

Airlines need to ‘follow the rules when flights are disrupted’ say consumer group Which?

15:40 , Joe Middleton

Lisa Webb, a law expert at consumer rights group Which?, said airlines needed to “follow the rules when flights are disrupted” following a “hellish week” for travellers.

“The shameful scenes at UK airports this half-term are the result of an industry in which some airlines feel they can get away with ignoring consumer rights and acting with near impunity,” she said.

“It is clear that passenger rights need to be strengthened, so the Government must drop plans to cut compensation for delayed and cancelled flights and the Civil Aviation Authority must be given the power to issue direct fines so it can hold airlines to account when they flout the law.”

Pictured: queues at Eurostar in Paris

15:16 , Joe Middleton

The first image shows theGare du Nord terminal and the second is the Eurostar waiting room.

 (Laura Hampson)
(Laura Hampson)
 (Laura Hampson)
(Laura Hampson)

Is travel and passport chaos the new normal for Global Britain?

14:42 , Joe Middleton

This travel chaos and these passport delays don’t feel very much like the Brexit we were promised, writes Sean O’Grady.

Is travel and passport chaos the new normal for Global Britain? | Sean O’Grady

Grant Shapps rejects calls for ‘cheap’ foreign workers to solve airport chaos

14:15 , Joe Middleton

Grant Shapps has rejected calls to open the door to more “cheap” foreign workers in a bid to relieve the pressure on the aviation sector.

The transport secretary said he will “do absolutely everything possible to make sure” holidaymakers are able to get away without issues during the summer but stopped short of allowing a temporary migration influx to bridge the labour shortage.

Mr Shapps, asked whether he would temporarily allow more foreign workers into the industry to alleviate staffing pressures, told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “The answer can’t always be to reach for the lever marked ‘More immigration’.

“There is not some pull that is going to relieve this.”

Mr Shapps also denied that the UK’s divorce from Brussels was the main factor behind the chaos and queues seen at Britain’s airports over the four-day Platinum Jubilee break, pointing to large-scale disruption elsewhere in Europe.

Mr Shapps added that the Brexit vote had been about moving away from hiring “cheap labour from somewhere else”.

“I didn’t vote for Brexit but the country did and we’ve made our choice - we want a high-wage, high-skilled economy,” he said. That means the aviation sector, like all other sectors, and as the HGV, the lorry driving sector has now done, needs to change.”

Eurostar update from Paris

14:00 , Joe Middleton

Passengers scheduled for the 9.12am CEST train from Paris Gare du Nord have been told that their train should be ready to depart at 3.15pm CEST, six hours after it was initially scheduled to leave.

As this news was announced by members of the Eurostar team, there were cheers and clapping throughout the Eurostar waiting terminal, where passengers from four delayed trains have been waiting for close to five hours.

An earlier electrical fault just outside of Paris has been the cause for the Eurostar delays today, which has seen several trains from Paris to London cancelled as British holidaymakers try to return home for the end of the school holidays.

Passengers in the three other trains leading up to 12pm have been told they should be able to get home today too.

Thousands of passengers diverted after power failure stops arrivals at Luton airport

13:42 , Joe Middleton

At least 18 flights, believed to be carrying around 3,000 passengers in total, have been diverted after a Sunday morning power failure at Luton airport.

One Wizz Air jet landed at Beauvais northern France, while others were re-routed to Doncaster, Liverpool and East Midlands airports.

Luton airport initially told passengers: “An earlier power failure in the area has resulted in the temporary loss of some navigational aids, meaning some disruption to flights.”

Aircraft could not land for around three hours between 7am and 10am. Most of the arrivals were on Wizz from eastern European airports, but an easyJet arrival from Belfast was re-routed to Gatwick.

Simon Calder has the latest.

Thousands diverted after power failure stops arrivals at Luton airport

Grant Shapps says Brexit is not to blame for airport chaos

13:28 , Joe Middleton

Paris to London Eurostar trains delayed

13:24 , Joe Middleton

Laura Hampson reports that trains running from Paris to London on the Eurostar have been delayed since 9am CEST this morning due to an electrical fault just outside of the French capital.

There are currently four trainloads of passengers, waiting to board a service back to London with queues stretching out past the Gare du Nord gates and later trains have been cancelled.

An update given by the Eurostar team at 12.30pm CEST told passengers that the electrical fault is more serious than first thought, and no trains would be leaving until mid afternoon, likely from 4pm CEST onwards.

However, this is just an estimate.Passengers have been told that they can cancel their tickets if they wish, but there’s a large number of British passengers in the waiting room hoping to get home today.

Last night’s thunderstorm has meant that temperatures are hot and humid today, but the Eurostar staff say that air conditioning won’t be turned on in the Gate du Nord terminal until 21 June.

Delays and lengthy queues at Bristol Airport

13:10 , Joe Middleton

Holidaymakers have reported lengthy queues at Bristol Airport on Sunday morning. A number of passengers have taken to social media upset by the delays.

Grant Shapps dismisses bringing in army to end travel chaos

12:50 , Joe Middleton

Transport minister Grant Shapps has said he does not anticipate calling in the army to help with issues at airports.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary suggested on Thursday that the armed forces could be drafted into transport hubs for the next three to four months to prevent travel problems. The Liberal Democrats also suggested this could help ease problems faced by passengers.

Asked on BBC’s Sunday Morning programme if the army will be brought in if things do not improve over the next few weeks, Mr Shapps said: “The Army is not a snap solution to every problem. Secondly they are being deployed in increasing numbers to eastern Europe, to the Baltics, in what is a war situation and that’s what the Army are principally there for.

“The airports and airlines will need to sort out this problem. The Government will give them every support, but I don’t anticipate that will include calling in the Army.”

Brexit to blame for airports chaos, says Sadiq Khan

12:41 , Joe Middleton

Brexit is to blame for the chaos in Britain’s airports which has seen hundreds of flights cancelled and thousands of people’s half-term travel plans disrupted, London mayor Sadiq Khan has said.

Mr Khan called on the government to relax immigration rules to allow airport and airline workers who returned to their EU countries of origin following Brexit to come back to the UK to resolve staffing shortages.

But transport secretary Grant Shapps denied that the problems were caused by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and rejected calls for aviation workers to be added to the list of shortage occupations with lighter controls on migrants.

Andrew Woodcock reports.

Brexit to blame for airports chaos, says Sadiq Khan

Tens of thousands stranded in half-term flight cancellation chaos

12:39 , Joe Middleton

Tens of thousands of British travellers are stranded at airports across Europe by an estimated 200 flight cancellations over the weekend.

More than 100 flights to and from the UK were cancelled on Saturday by a combination of staff shortage and air-traffic control restrictions.

So far today dozens more have been grounded, mainly by easyJet. Many of those stranded are families hoping to return home after half-term holidays.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has the latest.

Tens of thousands stranded in half-term flight cancellation chaos

Welcome

12:36 , Joe Middleton

Good afternoon and welcome to The Independent’s travel blog bringing you the latest news of the ongoing chaos at airports around Europe as tens of thousands of Britons struggle to get home.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting