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Home » Airport hell will be WORSE in summer: Queues at Birmingham, Manchester and Stansted from 4.10am – Daily Mail

Airport hell will be WORSE in summer: Queues at Birmingham, Manchester and Stansted from 4.10am – Daily Mail

By Katie Weston and Jack Wright For Mailonline
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Customers have slammed Heathrow Airport over a Twitter post greeting its ‘wonderful passengers’ after days of airport chaos with more than 100 flights being cancelled across the UK today as huge queues formed at Birmingham, Manchester and Stansted. 
British Airways axed at least 78 flights scheduled to and from Heathrow for Wednesday, while easyJet called off at least 30 at Gatwick.  
The delays and cancellations are being blamed mostly on ‘staffing shortages and recruitment challenges’, and a sudden surge in passenger numbers – both caused by Covid and the lifting of curbs which have been in place for most of the past two years.
Amid the unprecedented bedlam, Heathrow posted on its official Twitter account: ‘Good morning and welcome to Heathrow! We just love interacting with our wonderful passengers and are already available online.’
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One passenger reacted in fury to the chirpy post, commenting: ‘What c*** you sprout, you don’t give a damn about your passengers, clearly showed that a few days ago, when everything went pear shaped and you went into hiding.’
Another wrote: ‘Seriously? Due to the current clusterf*** at Heathrow maybe the CEO should follow the Chief Executive at Manchester! There was plenty of time to plan for these two weeks!’ 
Travellers also shared pictures on social media of long lines forming at some of Britain’s busiest airports earlier today, with one sharing a video at 1.50am of crowds waiting at UK Border Control in Stansted. 
He wrote: ‘Terrible arrival into Stansted Airport 45 mins ago. Very slow queue and loads of people behind too.’
Tweeting a picture of two lengthy queues, another flyer said: ‘If it’s helpful this is what Birmingham Airport security queue looks like at 4.10am today! Estimated 10-15 mins wait.’
Over 1,140 flights were grounded at Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham in the week up to April 3 – with EasyJet and British Airways also cutting 60 and 98 flights respectively yesterday.  
It comes after John O’Neill, North West Regional Industrial Officer for the trade union Unite, said officials met management at Manchester Airport yesterday to discuss pay. 
He warned: ‘Summer is going to be far worse than this. It is the time to get everything in place otherwise summer is going to very difficult.’
And Karen Smart was yesterday forced to resign as managing director of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports, after just two years in the post.
Manchester Airport management were due to meet political leaders and unions to discuss the ongoing situation, after Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer challenged them to ‘get a grip or get out’.
And unions are warning that the carnage is set to go on throughout the summer because of the delays in processing counter-terror checks needed for new airport staff, with some said to be taking 30 weeks instead of the usual 14 to 15 while civil servants WFH.
In a statement, MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish said: ‘Over the last two years, Karen has guided Manchester Airport through the most challenging period of its 84-year history, having made a major contribution to MAG throughout her time with the business.
‘I am sorry to lose Karen after her years of valuable service, but also understand her desire to return to the South for family reasons and indeed to explore new career opportunities.
‘While there are sure to be further challenges ahead, I am confident we will soon start to see the benefits of the recovery plans Karen has helped put in place and look forward to working with Ian and his leadership team to drive them forward.’
Yesterday, passengers at Manchester were spotted jumping over barriers and abandoning their luggage in a desperate attempt to make their flights, according to Nicky Kelvin, head of travel website Points Guy UK. 
Meanwhile at Heathrow, a male passenger in his early 30s collapsed while queueing as staff shortages left people waiting four hours to clear passport control.
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Amid the unprecedented bedlam, Heathrow Airport posted on its official Twitter account: ‘Good morning and welcome to Heathrow! We just love interacting with our wonderful passengers and are already available online’
Crowds are seen at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 in London this morning as families try and get away for the Easter holidays 
British Airways axed at least 78 flights scheduled to and from Heathrow for Wednesday, while easyJet called off at least 30 at Gatwick. Pictured: passengers queuing at Heathrow Terminal 2 today
Over 1,140 flights were grounded at Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham in the week up to April 3. Pictured: Pilots and airline staff waiting at London’s Heathrow Airport today
Unions are warning the carnage is set to go on throughout the summer because of the delays in processing counter-terror checks needed for new airport staff. Pictured: Heathrow Terminal 2 as families try and get away for the Easter holidays today
At Heathrow yesterday, a male passenger in his early 30s collapsed while queueing as staff shortages left people waiting four hours to clear passport control. Pictured: Passengers are seen queuing with their luggage at Heathrow this morning
Huge queues started forming at Birmingham, Manchester (pictured today) and Stansted airports from 4.10am this morning with passengers arriving early as cancelled flights and delays continue to derail Easter getaways
Passengers took to social media early today to share pictures of long lines already forming at some of Britain’s busiest airports, with one traveller sharing a video (above) at 1.50am of crowds waiting at UK Border Control in Stansted
Tweeting a picture of two lengthy queues (above, taken today), another passenger said: ‘If it’s helpful this is what Birmingham Airport security queue looks like at 4.10am today! Estimated 10-15 mins wait.’
Travellers face chaos at Britain’s busiest airports including Heathrow (pictured yesterday), Gatwick and Manchester
More than 1,140 flights have been grounded at a number of major airports including Manchester (pictured yesterday)
The unprecedented bedlam is being blamed on ‘staffing shortages and recruitment challenges’ (Gatwick pictured yesterday)
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Manchester, pictured yesterday, the UK’s third busiest airport, has been mired in chaos in recent weeks
Karen Smart has resigned as managing director of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports, after just two years in the post, the company confirmed  on Tuesday afternoon
EasyJet has cancelled more than 220 flights, blaming the disruption on high levels of staff sickness due to Covid.
At least 222 flights have been axed since Friday, including 62 that had been scheduled for Monday alone, the majority of which were cancelled at short notice on Saturday.
Covid infection numbers are some of the highest they have been since the start of the pandemic. 
An EasyJet spokesperson said yesterday: ‘As a result of the current high rates of Covid infections across Europe, like all businesses EasyJet is experiencing higher than usual levels of employee sickness. 
‘We have taken action to mitigate this through the rostering of additional standby crew this weekend, however, with the current levels of sickness we have also decided to make some cancellations in advance.’
They said the focus was on ‘consolidating flights where we have multiple frequencies so customers have more options to rebook their travel, often on the same day.’
They added: ‘Unfortunately it has been necessary to make some additional cancellations for today and tomorrow. 
‘We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to customers on affected flights.
‘We have made 62 preemptive cancellations for flights to and from the UK for tomorrow which represents a small proportion tomorrow’s total flying programme which was planned to be more than 1645 flights. 
‘We cancelled the majority of these yesterday.’
Eyewitness Jessica Oliver told MailOnline: ‘I just walked past and he was on the floor. There were people helping him – I don’t know if it was dehydration or very low blood sugar, but it’s very hot and staff are handing out water bottles. It was also chaotic at Amsterdam, but I’ve never seen anything like this.’
The man’s current condition is unknown and Heathrow Airport has been contacted for an update.
To reduce the impact on passengers, most cancellations are being made at least a day in advance and on routes with multiple daily flights, so passengers can be offered alternative departures.
British Airways said many of its cancellations include flights cut as part of its decision last month to reduce its schedule until the end of May.
Travellers also took to social media to share photos of huge queues stretching up to four hours long yesterday, with one person writing: ‘Chaos at Heathrow Airport arrivals. Some people have been standing here for the past four hours and the queues are not moving. What is causing the disruption?’.
Another passenger added: ‘Three hour plus clearing immigrations wait at Terminal 3 for under two hours European flight!! Still nowhere near through. No one giving any updates!’.
And while sat in Terminal 5 at Heathrow, Hannah Swales told MailOnline about her ‘shambolic’ return flight from Dubai. She said: ‘We were delayed from Dubai for three hours and then had to be rebooked on the “next available flight”. We were to stay in Heathrow Airport with no luggage and no access to medication in our luggage.’
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: ‘Airlines are certainly seeing a high level of demand to fly, but are simply unable to cope with that demand due to a lack of resources. It’s a nightmare situation for airlines and airports at the moment.’
Martin Chalk, general secretary of the pilots’ union Balpa, also told The Telegraph: ‘The chaos witnessed at British airports may well be repeated throughout the summer because airlines, laden with debt… have not yet rehired enough staff.’
The rise in bookings is overtaking the number of airline staff being hired, which is being further exacerbated by security checks.
An industry source further blamed the vetting process, saying it can take up to six months before someone is able to come in and do a job at an airport.
But a spokesperson for the Department for Transport (DfT) contended the ‘aviation industry is responsible for resourcing at airports’, adding: ‘They manage their staff absences, although we want to see minimal disruption for passengers during the Easter period.
‘The requirement for Counter Terrorist Checks for aviation security staff is important for the protection of the travelling public and the Government continues to process these security clearances in a timely manner.’
There were also reports of travel chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Monday, as well as long delays at Dover and a train blockage in the Channel Tunnel.
P&O Ferries customers face having their Easter holidays ruined after fully-booked rivals said they cannot honour their tickets from Dover to France this weekend.
Anyone with a ticket from P&O has been able to travel with DFDS, one of Europe’s largest shipping operators, over the past few weeks.
But this mutual agreement is coming to an end on Friday, leaving ticketholders rushing to get refunds from P&O and rebook with its competitor.
This could lead to further queues and gridlocked roads around the Port of Dover, following three-hour waits last Saturday owing to fewer services in the wake of the redundancy debacle. 
In a tweet shared yesterday afternoon, P&O Ferries wrote: ‘All P&O Ferries Passenger Services are suspended this weekend. 
‘For travel 8/9/10th April please re-book directly with another operator before arriving at the port. 
‘DFDS will not be able to transfer P&O customers onto their services.’  
Heathrow warned passengers of possible delays, tweeting: ‘We continue to advise passengers arrive 3 hours prior to their scheduled departure time as we are not able to estimate queue times ahead of journeys, due to them being influenced by a significant range of factors.’
Long queues were also reported at Birmingham from 7.45am yesterday, with one passenger warning others to ‘get here early’. Another traveller, Luka Beckett, said she was ‘trapped’ on a grounded plane for 40 minutes on Sunday due to a lack of staff.
She told Birmingham Live: ‘We should have been home at around 10pm, but got in sometime after midnight. It was horrific.’
This follows a week of reported mass disruption with more than 1,100 flights cancelled throughout the UK. In the week up to April 3, a total of 1,143 flights were cancelled from and to the UK compared with just 197 flights cancelled the same week in 2019.
The latest figures show British Airways cancelled 662 flights while EasyJet axed 357 last week, according to data from Cirium, which carries out aviation analysis.
But some of these totals are based on historical cancellations and were flights axed months ago while airlines have claimed they represent a small percentage of their total flights.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Mr Stringer, the former leader of Manchester Council and chairman of the airport board, said: ‘Covid has made life difficult for everyone in the aviation industry. The way to respond to that is by good employment procedures and not by casualisation, effectively using fire and rehire. The airport needs to reset and pay above the market rate to stabilise the situation and give confidence to employees and the travelling public.’
On Monday, Manchester Airport chiefs apologised for ‘falling short’ following long delays over the weekend.
Meanwhile, pictures showed long queues at Heathrow, with airport bosses blaming a huge spike in passenger numbers. Heathrow chiefs say passenger numbers have now reached pre-pandemic levels, with Saturday being the first school holidays since the start of the pandemic with no travel restrictions in place in England.
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The carnage is set to go on throughout the summer because of the delays in processing counter-terror checks needed for new airport staff, with some said to be taking 30 weeks instead of the usual 14 to 15 while civil servants work from home. Pictured: passengers queuing at Heathrow this afternoon
Passengers queue early on Tuesday for security at Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1, as travel chaos continues  at airports and ports as the Easter holidays get underway
Long queues seen yesterday as passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 for the start of their Easter holiday
The latest figures show British Airways cancelled 662 flights while easyJet axed 357 last week, according to data from Cirium, which carries out aviation analysis. But some of these totals are based on historical cancellations and were flights axed months ago. Pictured left and right: Huge queues for security at Manchester Airport
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Eurotunnel passengers face a three hour delay on Monday morning due a train being halted in the Channel Tunnel.
Eurotunnel – the vehicle carrying railway tunnel that connects Folkestone with Coquelles beneath the English Channel – is reporting a three hour delay to services. 
The travel firm, which is separate from the passenger-only Eurostar service, said it was due to a train stopped in the tunnel. 
‘Due to a train stopped temporarily in the tunnel, our service is currently experiencing delays. Please check-in as planned. Apologies for this,’ Eurotunnel said on Twitter.
Passenger service Eurostar, which operates trains between London St Pancras and Europe, and which uses the same tunnels, also has delays, according to its website though has yet to post any updates on its Twitter page. 
A delay warning on its website says: ‘Your train has been delayed because part of the track is temporarily closed in the Channel Tunnel. Speed restrictions are in place. We are sorry for the impact this may have on your plans.’
Bosses at Gatwick also said passengers numbers were returning to 2019 levels at the Sussex airport and that while there were some check-in queues that it was generally ‘coping well’ with the increase in footfall.
One travel expert estimated that there had ‘probably been more resignations in the last three months’ than during the Covid crisis because staff were ‘worn out’. Another warned disruption at airports such as Manchester could last for ‘months’, with firms having to train new staff to deal with the post-Covid increase in demand.
Bosses of the company behind Manchester Airport, which is in the same group as Stansted and East Midlands Airport, said it had seen a 1,300 percent increase increase in passenger numbers in February – compared to the previous year when the country was in lockdown.
Pictures taken at Manchester Airport on Monday showed long queues of people attempting to get through to security. Passengers also bemoaned a lack of organisation at the check-in, with long queues also seen at the check-in desk. In a tongue-in-cheek Twitter post, one frustrated traveller described a snaking queue at the airport as a world record attempt at the ‘world’s slowest, longest conga line’.
A Manchester Airport spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Manchester Airport apologises to passengers whose experiences have fallen below the standard we aim to provide. We want to assure customers and colleagues that their safety and security will always be our first priority.
‘Our whole industry is facing staff shortages and recruitment challenges at present, after the most damaging two years in its history. The removal of all travel restrictions after two years, coupled with the start of the summer travel season, has seen a rapid increase in passenger numbers, which is putting an enormous strain on our operation.
‘We are doing all we can to recruit the staff we need to meet this demand, but this is taking time due to the lengthy vetting and training processes involved. That is why we have been advising travellers that there may be, at times, longer queues than normal.
‘Whenever this is the case, we do all we can to redeploy resources and prioritise passengers within queues as best we can.
‘We are also aware that partners working on our site, such as baggage handling agents, are facing similar challenges. We will continue to support them in any way we can to deliver the best possible experience for customers during this challenging time.’
It comes after the west-London airport faced its own chaos last week, after a major BA IT meltdown forced the airline to cancel or delay hundreds of flights.
By James Robinson for MailOnline   
Outdated IT equipment, an historic lack of investment in new technology and outsourcing are behind BA’s recent spate of issues which have been causing chaos for passengers at Heathrow airport, according to experts.
In the latest IT meltdown, more than 5,000 passengers faced widespread disruption last week following what the airline described as ‘technical issues’ within its IT set-up.
At least 50 short-haul flights to and from London were cancelled due to the two-day disruption, which mostly impacted BA’s main hub at Heathrow Terminal 5.
It comes as customers of BA and other airlines this week faced major disruption at airports such as Heathrow and Manchester, with huge queues at security and check-in.  
BA’s IT issues last week – which are not behind this week’s airport chaos – have long been documented.
The airline’s former chief executive, Alex Cruz, claimed back in 2016 that some of the firm’s systems were ‘up to 50 years old’.
His comments came a year before BA suffered a major IT failure in 2017, when more than 75,000 passengers were impacted. The issue ultimately led to a £60million legal action between the airline and one of its partners.
While the IT issues appeared to smooth out during the Covid pandemic, when passengers numbers were significantly lower, BA’s tech woes returned earlier this year.
In March, almost 200 BA flights were disrupted, with passengers left queuing for more than an hour to check in their bags and others forced to return home without their luggage, due to the same IT issues.
And in February, passengers were also hit by chaos from BA as more than 500 flights were cancelled or delayed after the airline suffered its biggest IT meltdown for years. 
While the real reason for the recent spate of issues are unclear, experts and former bosses have suggested outdated IT systems are to blame. 
In the latest IT meltdown, more than 5,000 passengers faced disruption last week following what the airline described as ‘technical issues’ within its IT set-up
At least 50 short-haul flights (pictured: Library image of a BA plane) to and from London have been cancelled today due to the disruption, which BA say mainly impacted its operations at Terminal 5
In an internal message to staff, chief executive Sean Doyle (pictured) admitted passengers and employees were ‘fed up’ with the recent issues, which included IT issues and staff shortages
One industry insider told MailOnline that BA had attempted to invest in new IT infrastructure in recent years. But they said the firm was still facing issues with its computer systems.
‘I think they are still trying to put their finger on what is going wrong,’ one source told MailOnline.
‘As I understand it they upgraded their check-in systems – which are called ‘Fly’ – a few years ago, so most of the computers are new and I think most people thought this issue was sorted.
‘They (BA) are being quite quiet on the issue, so either they are not sure what is going on or something else is going on.’  
Other industry sources agreed that BA had made attempts to upgrade their IT systems following a spate of incidents six years ago. 
‘I think that (old IT equipment) is the still the root of the issue. Certainly there is a bit of concern,’ said one industry source, who also ruled out the possibility of outside interference, such as cyber attacks by Russia.
BA meanwhile say its parent company, IAG, which also owns Irish airline Aer Lingus, is investing £450million pounds ($600million) in bumping up IT infrastructure.
However they say the upgrades, which include moving BA’s data centres on to a digital cloud system, will ‘take time’.
‘In the interim we are also investing heavily in building more resilience to our existing systems,’ said one BA spokesperson.
Experts have also agreed that BA faces a ‘complex’ task in upgrading its IT infrastructure.
John Strickland, CEO of air transport consultancy firm, JLS Consulting told MailOnline: ‘BA has been investing in IT renewal but with a multiplicity of systems built up over many decades this is both a complex, intricate and slow process. 
‘Given the scale of its operation in the UK, the impact of failures can be high and more visible than for some other similar airlines. 
‘Low cost carriers have the relative advantage of more simple business models and newer IT architecture but even there some systems may be twenty years old.
‘The industry as a whole needs to invest continuously to exploit the advantages of digital technology which can support their business and improve reliability of systems.’
It is not the first time that BA’s IT infrastructure has been called into question. Alex Cruz, the former boss of BA, told the Financial Times in 2016 that airlines were still using outdated technology and needed to raise their game. 
‘If you look at the underlying systems that all big airlines . . . rely on, it is 20, 30, 40, 50-year-old technology, it is truly amazing to see,’ he said.
Others say cost cutting pressures from BA’s owners, the Anglo-English firm International Airlines Group (IAG), may have also contributed
Renewing IT systems is complex, time-consuming and expensive — a factor that prompts many companies to put it off as long as possible, said Loizos Heracleous, a professor of strategy at Warwick Business School, told AP in 2017.
Mr Heracleous said costly upgrades for larger firms such as BA have played into the advantage of newer firms such as Ryanair, which launched in 1984. 
‘The ability to set up an airline from scratch by-passes a lot of the legacy issues, because you can go for state-of-the-art systems,’ Heracleous said. 
‘Newer airlines can also invest in IT systems that are more easily upgradeable and scalable. 
‘An airline such as Ryanair, that is also financially successful, has more leeway to divert needed resources towards upgrading its IT systems.’
Alex Cruz (pictured left), the former boss of BA, told the Financial Times in 2016 that airlines were still using outdated technology and needed to raise their game. Wayne Osse (pictured right), Director of Sales Engineering and the real-time data IT expert for the aviation industry at Solace, told MailOnline: ‘Being able to sense and respond to events can make a big difference in overall operational responsiveness and passenger satisfaction.’
Experts also warned about potential bumps in the road ahead following the big IT failure in 2017. 
Kathleen Brooks, the research director at City Index, told AP back in 2017 that IAG’s cost cutting would ‘come back to bite’ them.   
 ‘Although cost cutting has been good for the share price, it will come back to bite IAG if it stops them from doing what they are supposed to do: Fly passengers to their destinations,’ she said. 
Others have called for major airlines to ‘accelerate’ the modernisation of their IT systems, not only to prevent losses and improve security, but to improve their services.
Wayne Osse, Director of Sales Engineering and the real-time data IT expert for the aviation industry at Solace, told MailOnline: ‘Being able to sense and respond to events can make a big difference in overall operational responsiveness and passenger satisfaction.
‘There is clearly a feeling that modernisation efforts need to be accelerated. 
‘Having better access to data and, importantly, sharing it in real time will transform the way we manage air traffic. 
‘Being able to sense, respond to and even predict crucial events can make a big difference in flyer satisfaction and overall operational responsiveness. 
‘With the return of international travel post-covid and further safety implementation because of the pandemic, now is the time for the aviation industry to operate in even more real time and embrace the much needed digital transformation.’ 
BA as a major airline is far from alone in its troubles with outdated IT equipment.
Other firms, including several major US airlines, also suffered issues with IT back in 2016, according to Condé Nast Traveller, a luxury travel magazine produced by the company behind the likes of Vogue and QC.
In 2015, Delta suffered three days of delays after a small fire knocked out a transformer supplying power to the airline’s data centre.
It meant airline agents couldn’t check in passengers, flights could not take off and self-serve kiosks at airports were down.
The airline lost $100million in revenue after cancelling 2,000 flights, according to Condé Nast Traveller. 
Then, in 2017, United Airlines was forced to ground all domestic flights, and Delta ground 451 flights due to a ‘major system-wide network outage.’ 
And in 2019, 780 flights were delayed when critical flight data provider AeroData suffered a systems outage. 
According to Condé Nast Traveller, soon after the earlier 2015 incident, Delta, along with American Airlines, launched multibillion-pound projects to overhaul their systems. 
In 2015, Delta (pictured: Library image) suffered three days of delays after a small fire knocked out a transformer supplying power to the airline’s data centre
Alongside suggestions of a lack of investment in tech infrastructure, unions have blamed BA’s IT issues on outsourcing.
In 2017, after the computer fiasco that affected 75,000 passengers, the GMB union claimed it could have been avoided if the airline had not cut the jobs of ‘hundreds of dedicated and loyal’ IT staff and contracted the work to India last year.  
However the airline rejected this, saying it had been caused by the ‘ loss of power to the UK data centre which was compounded by the uncontrolled return of power which caused a power surge taking out our IT systems’.
BA said in their 2017 statement: ‘It was not an IT failure and had nothing to do with outsourcing of IT, it was an electrical power supply which was interrupted.’
A spokesperson said at the time the company was undertaking an ‘exhaustive investigation to find out the exact circumstances’ in order to ‘ensure that this can never happen again’.
Later it transpired that BA had, as it had stated at the time, lost power to the company’s data centre.
But it was also revealed that the services had failed to shift to the company’s back up facility.
BA, which reportedly faced up to £100million in compensation claims over the issue, ended up taking the data centre’s operator, CBRE to court, over £58million in losses.
However, according to Computer Weekly, the two groups ultimately settled out of court in 2019, with no admission of liability.    
Despite this, BA’s computer woes continued and In 2019, at least 15,000 passengers across 84 flights had their journeys canceled due to an IT outage.
BA’s IT troubles have resurfaced again this year. In February, passengers were hit by chaos from BA as more than 500 flights were cancelled or delayed after the airline suffered its biggest IT meltdown for years.
Last month, almost 200 BA flights were disrupted, with passengers left queuing for more than an hour to check in their bags and others forced to return home without their luggage. 
Passengers queue at the Arrivals entrance of Heathrow Airport T5, London, in February after British Airways cancelled all short-haul flights from the airport until midday and further disruption is expected throughout Saturday due to ongoing technical issues
In an internal message to staff, chief executive Sean Doyle admitted passengers and employees were ‘fed up’ with the recent issues, which included IT issues and staff shortages.
BA said flights would have to be cancelled over the next few weeks, through the Easter holidays and until the end of May.
The issues have come at the worst time for BA, with bookings at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic after the UK and most European countries ditched Covid traveller tests for fully vaccinated holidaymakers.
Over the weekend, passengers at Heathrow said there were ‘not enough staff to explain what was going on’ and a lot of the desks looked ‘unmanned’ at the baggage check-in at Terminal 5.  
Meanwhile the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the statutory corporation which oversees and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the United Kingdom, said it would ‘not hesitate’ to take action against airlines that failed to follow its guidance on cancellations and delays.
A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The UK Civil Aviation Authority has a track record of standing up for consumer rights and will continue to do so. We have guidance on cancellations and flight disruption and expect airlines to follow this. 
‘Where we have evidence that airlines are not following these guidelines, we will not hesitate to take further action where required.
‘If your flight is delayed, your airline has a duty of care to look after you. This can include providing food and drink, as well as accommodation if you are delayed overnight.
‘If your flight is cancelled you should be offered a choice of refund or offered alternative travel arrangements at the earliest opportunity. 
‘This can include flights on other airlines, or a new flight at a later date at your convenience. We also expect airlines to proactively provide passengers with information about their rights when flights are disrupted.’   
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