Manchester Airport flight cancellations: Tui cancels nearly 200 flights at Manchester Airport as travel chaos worsens

Tui Airways has cancelled nearly 200 flights due to serve Manchester Airport between now and the end of June as the chaos faced by UK holidaymakers worsens.

The airline made the announcement after passengers suffered long delays in recent days due to staff shortages.

It will cancel six daily flights up to June 30, including to destinations such as Spain’s Canary Islands.

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Other airlines are continuing to axe flights, and passengers are being forced to wait in long queues at airports such as Manchester, Heathrow, Gatwick and Bristol.

Photo from the Twitter feed of @chrisjprice67 of people queuing at Manchester Airport on Monday May 30Photo from the Twitter feed of @chrisjprice67 of people queuing at Manchester Airport on Monday May 30
Photo from the Twitter feed of @chrisjprice67 of people queuing at Manchester Airport on Monday May 30

Airline passengers have been hit by disruption for several months, with the situation worsening this week due to the rise in demand sparked by the half-term school holiday and the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday period.

The aviation industry is suffering from staff shortages after letting thousands of people go during the coronavirus pandemic.

Airlines and airports repeatedly called for more financial support during the Covid-19 crisis as Government travel restrictions suppressed demand.

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They are now struggling to recruit new workers and have their security checks processed.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh accused the Government of being “missing in action”.

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“Tory ministers can’t even get the basics right,” she said.

“They should show some responsibility, do their job, and take concrete steps to tackle the chaos growing on their watch.”

Last month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps introduced legislation to allow new aviation recruits to begin training before passing security checks to reduce the time it takes for them to start work.

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A Government spokeswoman said airports are “busier than usual” due to “an exceptionally high number of people travelling” this week.

She continued: “The aviation industry is responsible for making sure they have enough staff to meet demand and we have been clear that they must step up recruitment to make sure disruption is kept to a minimum.

“In addition, using our post-Brexit freedoms, we have changed the law to provide the sector with more flexibility when training new employees, which will help it to fill vacancies more quickly.

“We have also worked with Border Force to ensure preparations meet passenger demand.”

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Aviation data firm Cirium said 291 departures from major UK airports have been cancelled between May 25 and Tuesday.

Tui Airways said in a statement: “Unfortunately, due to ongoing challenges in our operation, we have had to announce a small number of planned cancellations between now and 30 June from Manchester Airport only.

“We are directly contacting all impacted customers in departure date order and they will automatically receive a full refund.

“We can reassure our customers that the remainder of our flying programme is expected to operate as planned.”

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In response, the airport said the carrier and its ground handler, Swissport, are suffering from staff shortages and experiencing “significant challenges with their check-in and baggage reclaim operations”.

It added: “We understand Tui’s difficult decision to cancel a number of services over the course of the next month, although we are obviously disappointed to see passengers’ plans disrupted in this way.”

EasyJet cancelled at least 31 flights at Gatwick on Tuesday.

British Airways is continuing to cancel dozens of flights each day, although the airline said passengers are being told several days in advance.

Passengers are reporting long delays at several airports.

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One passenger described Heathrow Terminal 5 as an “utter shambles”, with a “gigantic queue for security”.

A Twitter user posted an image of a queue at Manchester Airport which stretched along a car park, describing the situation as “madness”.

Another passenger at the airport said arriving travellers were waiting for more than three hours to get their luggage.

She wrote: “People have just abandoned them. We were told to come back during the week for ours.”

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A passenger booked on a Vueling flight from Gatwick queued for four-and-a-half hours to check in before the departure was cancelled.

It was “the worst airport experience ever”, he wrote.

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said those in charge of UK aviation companies “should hang their heads in shame”.

She went on: “They got very rich on high profits and low pay. They then sacked and slashed wages for thousands of workers without a second thought during the pandemic. Now they are reaping what they have sown because, understandably, people don’t want to work for them anymore.”

Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of the Prospect union, said there are “staff shortages across the industry” and a “huge reliance on overtime to get by day to day”.

He went on: “Things could get worse this summer before they get better.”