Nightmare for passengers as Tui cuts nearly 200 flights

Nightmare for passengers as Tui cuts nearly 200 flights
Hundreds of Tui customers have been caught up in a travel nightmare as the company announced it was cancelling 186 flights to and from Manchester airport in the UK. Passengers who waited up to eight hours at the airport on Monday were forced to head back home in the early hours after their flights were cancelled.

Lengthy queues and extended waiting times at check-in and security have caused mayhem for thousands of people heading off on holidays for the half-term school holiday. Industry-wide problems caused by a lack of staff have forced Tui to cancel six flights a day from Tuesday to the end of June.

The travel company incurred the wrath of angry travellers who were forced to wait at airports for hours, some with young children. Dublin airport in Ireland, Schiphol airport in Amsterdam and Brussels airport have also been affected by longer-than-normal queues in recent days.

Jayesh Patel was among those who had been due to fly from Manchester to Greece on a Tui flight on Monday, and spent eight hours at the airport. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that after waiting around for hours, airport staff turned up at the gate at 7.20pm and “a big cheer went up” among passengers as they thought they were about to board the aircraft. Instead, they announced the flight was cancelled because there was no pilot available.

“At about 7.30pm people were getting quite upset, children were crying, there were people going away on honeymoon and getting married,” he said. “At about 7.45pm we all started to receive text messages and emails from Tui basically saying that the flight had been cancelled and because it was a package booking the whole holiday had been cancelled.”

He said while some passengers accepted the cancellation, others were “visibly angry and upset”. “I think the worst part of it [was] there were no staff or people to help. Eventually a couple of police officers who worked at the airport arrived and they read out the Tui statement on behalf of Tui.”

Susan Poynton, a passenger who travelled from Manchester Airport to Ibiza on Monday on a Tui flight, said her journey was delayed by more than half a day.

“Checked in at 4am [and] finally arrived in Ibiza at 8pm,” she tweeted. “Dreadful service due to no serviceable aircraft being available.” Ms Poynton said she had booked her trip 15 months ago, which should have meant Tui “had enough notice to get it right”.

Lord Parkinson, the UK’s arts minister, sought to deflect blame from the Conservative-led government to the travel industry for the lack of staff. Speaking to Sky News he said the government had been using “post-Brexit freedoms to make sure we can recruit people as swiftly as possible”.

Airlines and airports were forced to lay off vast numbers of personnel during the Covid-19 pandemic and many are struggling to replenish their workforces amid a sudden surge in demand for travel.

“We’ve been saying to the industry for quite some time they should have been preparing for this,” Lord Parkinson said. “The companies should have had the people in place and we’re working with colleagues at the Department for Transport to make sure that they can get people in as swiftly as possible."

A spokesperson for Tui apologised for the issues and said passengers who had their flights cancelled would be entitled to a full refund.

“We would like to apologise to our customers who have experienced flight delays and cancellations in recent days and understand that many of our customers have been looking forward to their holiday with us for a long time,” the spokesperson said.

“Due to the amount of ongoing disruption in our operation at Manchester Airport, we have made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel six flights a day (43 flights a week), from Tuesday 31st May until Thursday 30th June. All other airports in the UK are planned to operate as normal.

“We understand how disappointing this this will be for those impacted; however, we believe this is necessary to provide stability and a better customer service at Manchester Airport. We will continue to work closely with all our airport partners and suppliers so we can provide the best possible holiday experience for our customers.”

EasyJet cancelled more than 200 flights to or from Gatwick Airport last week because of a software glitch.
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