Brits faces summer holiday hell with cancelled flights and jammed roads

Brits are facing summer holiday hell with one million cancelled flights, five million axed rail trips and 16 million cars jamming the roads.

With schools set to break up on Friday (July 21) experts have warned holidaymakers planning a quick getaway should expect train, plane and automobile chaos.

Around 150 Birmingham Airport workers downed tools.

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Almost 1,000 Gatwick Airport check-in staff and baggage handlers will walk out on strikes spanning eight days between July 28 and August 8.

Separately Gatwick has warned flights will be cancelled due to clogged European airspace after easyJet had to scrap 1,700 – hitting 180,000 passengers.

Experts said other airlines will be forced to scrap thousands more in the coming weeks.

Paul Charles, chief executive officer of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: "There could easily be a million passengers whose flights are cancelled this summer.

"There are multiple causes – strikes, too many flights for Europe's airspace, airport flight capacity issues, and airline engineer staff shortages.''

European air traffic controllers have voted to strike potentially leading to the scrapping of tens of thousands more flights.

Sarah Coles, consumer expert at financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown said: "Anyone flying this summer has the uncertainty and worry of cancellations in their minds.''

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A spokesman for airline Vueling said: "The Gatwick strike could cause delays and cancellations outside our control while airspace restrictions impact all airlines.''

Wizz Air said: "It's critical to prepare for inevitable passenger disruption caused by strikes. We'll do everything in our control to limit it.''

Ryanair said: "There is urgent need for air traffic control reform to protect flights.''

Union Unite said Gatwick's strike would `inevitably cause severe delays, disruption and cancellations' – though an airport spokesman said 'contingency plans' would ensure 'as many flights as possible operate'.

"Inbound flights are increasingly being regulated at peak times due to knock-on effects of air traffic control restrictions across Europe,'' they added.

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Strikes will hit the railways too on the busiest leisure travel days of the year.

Five million passengers' journeys will be axed as 30,000 trains are cancelled for three days of industrial action.

Up to 20 firms will cut services by around half as 20,000 RMT workers walk out on Thursday (July 20) and Saturday (July 22) – the peak travel day on the first weekend of the school holidays.

They will down tools again on July 29 when millions more plan to set off on UK breaks.

Around 10,000 services – half of Britain's usual daily total – will be ditched on each of the strike days leaving half the usual near-four million daily rail passengers unable to travel.

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The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, said on its website the action was `likely to result in little or no services across large areas of the network', adding: "Passengers are warned to expect significant disruption.''

Further services will suffer short-notice cancellations due to an overtime ban affecting nine operators which will run until Saturday (July 22).

Three-hour ferry queues are expected at Dover at the weekend.

While 16 million cars are expected to jam roads from Friday to Monday, RAC data trends show.

Spokesman Simon Williams said: "The summer getaway will be busier than pre-pandemic with an awful lot of people going on holiday.

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"Friday afternoon will be busiest on the roads as leisure traffic clashes with commuters, with Saturday the most popular day for leisure trips.

"Dover will inevitably have increased traffic so factor in extra time there.

"Rail strikes will put more people in their cars.''

The worst snarl-ups are expected on the M25 near Heathrow and the Dartford Crossing, the A303 near Stonehenge, M5 south of Bristol and M4 near Cardiff.

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The RAC fears a deluge of breakdowns as many drivers have skimped on routine car maintenance due to the cost-of-living crisis.

Spokesman Rod Dennis said: "We’re seeing an enormous increase in breakdowns this year as drivers dependent on their vehicles for leisure and work contend with cripplingly high prices, leading to some scrimping on car maintenance as a result.''

Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at traffic software firm INRIX, said: "With millions of trips expected on the roads this getaway period drivers should be prepared for above-average delays to their favourite destinations.

"Planning ahead, using traffic apps and keeping tuned in to local traffic broadcasts are key to minimising frustrations this getaway period.''

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