Holidaymakers advised to plan ahead amid potential for Easter queues

The Department for Transport advised people to allow extra time for their journeys, as flight cancellations and long queues could cause Easter getaway chaos

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Travellers have been advised to plan ahead and avoid the busiest times if possible amid concerns of Easter getaway chaos.

The Department for Transport said it is working with operators to minimise disruption, but advising people to allow extra time for their journeys.

Holidaymakers have already faced flight cancellations this week and queues for cross-Channel ferry services look set to continue as a number of P&O vessels remain detained due to safety issues.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said there were “additional deficiencies” found during a reinspection on Wednesday of the Pride of Kent, while the Spirit of Britain vessel was detained on Tuesday after an inspection found “a number of deficiencies”.

Traffic queues on the M25 near Addlestone, Surrey.
Traffic queues on the M25 near Addlestone, Surrey.

The suspension of Dover-Calais sailings by P&O Ferries means there is a shortage of capacity on the key route just as Easter weekend approaches.

Large queues of lorries have been forming on the roads approaching the Port of Dover.

Meanwhile, some 27.6 million car journeys are expected to take place over the Bank Holiday weekend, according to the AA.

Motorists are advised to travel on Thursday or early on Saturday if they can, to give themselves the best chance of avoiding long queues.

Freight lorries queue at the Port of Dover as P&O Ferries sailings remain suspended.
Freight lorries queue at the Port of Dover as P&O Ferries sailings remain suspended.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “All our polling suggests that Good Friday will be the busiest getaway day for Easter trips and staycations. If some drivers can leave on Thursday or early Saturday, they may miss some of the jams.”

The motoring organisation also estimated that, with higher fuel prices, a 500-mile round trip will see drivers paying £20 more at the pumps than they did last Easter.

Passengers queue inside the departures area of Terminal 1 at Manchester Airport.
Passengers queue inside the departures area of Terminal 1 at Manchester Airport.

Transport minister Robert Courts said his department is “working closely with operators to minimise disruption” during the break, but advised people to “plan ahead and check for updates from operators”.

Flight cancellations and long queues at UK airports in recent days have been blamed on difficulties recruiting new staff and the time it takes for their security checks to be processed, as well as increased levels of coronavirus-related sickness.

Aviation data firm Cirium said 9,212 flights with 1.6 million seats are scheduled to depart from UK airports between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

The number of flights is 78% of the total for Easter 2019, before the coronavirus crisis affected travel.

The busiest day will be Good Friday when some 2,430 flights are due to depart.

Rail passengers have also been warned of delays as Network Rail carries out 530 engineering projects costing a total of £83 million.

This includes the closure of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes for four days from Good Friday due to upgrades of the existing line and HS2 work.

Meanwhile, the Met Office has said the weather looks like it will be “playing ball” for the long weekend, with a high of 23C possible in the south of England on Good Friday.

Forecaster Craig Snell said: “As Bank Holidays go it is looking fairly fine and dry across the UK, so I think people will certainly be able to get out and enjoy the countryside or whatever it is they’re doing over the Easter weekend.

“The weather will be playing ball. All in all, it looks like travel conditions are going to be fairly ok, weather-wise.”