Aviation sources expect the half-term and Jubilee bank holidays to pass with limited delays at airports but forecast a “narrative of disruption” in the media.
One source noted “Dover is already warning of delays and Eurostar has had one-and-a-half-hour queues at St Pancras this week” and warned: “There will be photos of queues at airports and a narrative of disruption.”
But the source insisted: “A lot of travellers will be pleasantly surprised. Airports are in a relatively good place.
“There will be challenges. The ground handlers are still the big worry, particularly at check-in. But we’re seeing security staff recruits come through.”
Lufthansa chief operating officer Ola Hansson identified ground handling as “the number-one problem” at airports last week, but suggested passengers are adding to the problems at check-in by not having documents ready. Hansson said: “More than two-thirds upload documents at the airport, and it takes time.”
The source agreed, saying: “Check-in is taking longer because of document checking. Countries are removing restrictions, but a lot retain requirements.
“Passengers need to think what they can do to be ready for check-in.”
The source suggested delays at UK arrival halls next week should be manageable, but warned delays are likely this summer, saying: “Border Force is always a worry. But this holiday is short and Border Force plans to have extra staff on. We hope it ensures service over the week. It will be more stretched in the summer.”
A senior airline source agreed, noting: “The pressures are still there, but there is progressive improvement.
“There are regular meetings of the resilience group across government and industry and a lot of work is being done on the ground.
“Delays are more likely in the summer than next week.
“The alleviation of measures overseas is taking some of the pressure off, although there is still a degree of manual document checking. For the majority of people most of the time travel is back to something close to normal. But that is no guarantee. No one can predict what will happen on the day.”
Data from aviation analytics firm Cirium shows 10,814 flights departing from UK airports over the June 2-5 Jubilee bank holiday weekend, equating to 1.9 million seats.
Heathrow is predicted to be the busiest followed by Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted and Luton.
Dublin is the most popular destination ahead of Amsterdam, Palma, Malaga and Alicante.
Belgium lifted its last remaining Covid restrictions on Monday, dropping passenger locator forms and Covid tests, and Spain confirmed an easing of entry rules at the weekend to allow unvaccinated adults entry with a negative test. Certificates are still required for those vaccinated.
Barbados announced vaccinated travellers no longer need a negative Covid test to enter from May 25, and Morocco removed its requirement for vaccinated visitors to take a PCR test before arrival last week. Arrivals still need to show proof of vaccination.
Israel also removed all remaining Covid entry rules including tests on arrival from May 21, so travellers no longer require proof of vaccination or a negative test result.
Japan announced an easing of Covid requirements, including for UK travellers, from June 1, removing airport tests and quarantine. However, a negative pre-departure test is still required, and the country has retained a cap on international arrivals.
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