Dover bosses plan to expand border capacity as they prepare for families swapping air travel for ferries
- Dover to expand border capacity to shorten queues for disrupted flights
- Agreement reached with French border forces for four or five new additional passport counters
- Hub saw an increase in travelers ahead of May’s Champions League final in Paris
- Port bosses want to avoid summer repeat after thousands of flights scrapped
Dover must expand border capacity to avoid queues if flight cancellations lead to an increase in holidaymakers seeking to cross the Channel by ferry.
Sources at Britain’s biggest port said a deal had been struck with French border forces to operate four or five newly built passport counters, up from seven currently.
They said the hub had a surge of travelers when flights were canceled ahead of May’s Champions League final in Paris in May, prompting a warning not to travel to Dover.
Dover will increase border capacity to avoid queues if holidaymakers turn to ferries (file image)
Port bosses want to avoid a similar situation this summer after tens of thousands of flights were scrapped and warnings that more are likely. A senior port source said: “One of the things we are currently doing is installing a range of additional cabins for the summer to [French border guards] to operate from. They will be in place next weekend or the week after.
“The idea is to increase transaction time, which means we get more capacity to get the same total volume of people passing through.” Dover is the UK’s busiest passenger port and Europe’s busiest Ro-Ro freight ferry hub, with 4,500 to 5,500 cars passing through it daily.
British Airways cut a further 10,300 flights this week after cutting 16,000 in March. Meanwhile, easyJet removed more than 10,000 last month.
British Airways cut 10,300 more flights this week after cutting 16,000 in March
This means that hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers can seek refunds if they cannot be rebooked on alternative flights and will seek different and potentially cheaper means of travel as airfares rise due to fewer seats available.
BA and easyJet have laid off thousands of workers, including experienced “legacy” staff during the pandemic.
They struggled to recruit new workers quickly enough to meet growing post-pandemic demand, forcing them to cancel flights.
Airlines have struggled to recruit the workers needed to meet growing post-pandemic demand
Industry leaders believe the disruption could last up to 18 months due to job market volatility.
A government ‘amnesty’ to airport slot rules ended yesterday (Friday).
It allowed carriers to withdraw flights without incurring potential penalties.
Ministers introduced the amnesty by urging carriers to review their plans and schedule only realistic flights.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has accused some airlines of overbooking flights amid the staff shortage crisis.
But despite the end of the amnesty, experts say thousands more cancellations are likely.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: ‘The scale of cancellations has been breathtaking and it’s not the end yet as there are likely to be more in the month. next, when we could see thousands more cancellations.’
Jo Rhodes, whose? Voyage, said: “Families planning the big summer getaway urgently need travel certainty.
“Far too many passengers have already suffered last minute cancellations and the amnesty means there is no excuse for the same levels of disruption throughout the summer.”