Getaways by road, rail, sky and sea are expected to be disrupted this long weekend as travellers race to get away for the Easter break.

Despite the soaring cost of fuel, motorists are planning more Easter leisure journeys than ever before in the coming weekend.

The RAC says drivers are collectively planning more than 21 million leisure journeys by car this weekend – the highest number for an Easter bank holiday since the organisation first started tracking motorists’ plans in 2014.

The scale of the Easter getaway on the roads is likely to be increased because of the closures of key parts of the West Coast Main railway line.

Meanwhile, easyJet and British Airways continue to cancel flights, having axed more than 80 scheduled services between them today.

While both airlines have attributed their cancellations in the past fortnight to staff sickness and absence, UK airports have reported staffing issues leading to longer than usual queues and waits.

P&O Ferries has also caused chaos for holidaymakers by suspending all of its Dover-Calais services over the Easter weekend.

Follow the latest updates below.

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Jamaica to end pre-travel testing this weekend

Jamaican authorities have announced that the island will end its pre-travel testing requirement from 16 April, as well as ditching its indoor mask-wearing rule.

“Eliminating mask mandates and the need for travellers to present a negative Covid test result are important strides toward our continued gradual relaxation of travel protocols as the spread of Covid-19 keeps declining,” said minister of tourism Edmund Bartlett.

“We are optimistic that these simpler requirements will serve to increase the appeal of Jamaica as a premier destination and keep us moving along the road to a stronger recovery for both the tourism sector and the nation’s economy as a whole.”

(Alamy)

Lucy Thackray14 April 2022 16:01

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Travellers report being herded into ‘packed area’ of Manchester Airport with ‘no ventilation’

Passengers who travelled through Manchester Airport on Tuesday have described being herded into a packed departure gate with several other planeloads of passengers and “no ventilation”, after several flights were delayed around the same time.

Ryanair passenger Gino DeBlas told LancsLive: “That gate [44] shares four departure doors. At the time there were four flights scheduled at around the same time as each other.

“One to Naples, Krakow, Palma and the fourth I can’t remember. Effectively they called everyone as a last boarding call and packed everyone into one area. There was limited mask wearing inside the terminal departure area making it extremely difficult for anyone who was trying to stay Covid safe whilst travelling.

“In the 30 plus years of flying, which is around 40 flights a year since 2005 for work, I haven’t seen anything like it. Ryanair operate a mask only flight policy but they were happy to have people queue in a waiting area with zero Covid precautions.”

A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said the boarding process was the responsibility of the airline, but that they would work to understand how queues were managed in this instance. It added that it was “committed to providing adequate ventilation” in its buildings and assess the terminals regularly to do so.

Lucy Thackray14 April 2022 14:57

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What ferry travellers sailing from Dover-Calais need to know this Easter

Four weeks ago, P&O Ferries ordered all its vessels to tie up and await an important announcement. Nearly 800 crew were told that they were being made redundant and would be replaced by cheaper agency staff.

Since then P&O has resumed sailings on all its routes except the most crucial: Dover-Calais.

This weekend motorists are being told: “Stay away unless you have a confirmed ticket on a ferry that you know is running.”

Simon Calder 14 April 2022 14:12

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All the cancelled trains and rail works happening this Easter weekend

By lunchtime on Maundy Thursday, London Euston station was extremely busy. From the close of services tonight, the terminus for the West Coast main line will not reopen until Tuesday 19 April.

Large-scale rail engineering work, resulting in widespread line closures, has become an Easter tradition, and this year Euston is the target.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, travelling patterns have changed – but the usual pattern of rail closures continues.

Here’s everything you need to know about engineering works over the Easter weekend:

Simon Calder14 April 2022 13:52

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Ryanair IT failure disrupts passengers

Europe’s biggest budget airline has suffered a “reservations system failure” that means passengers cannot check in for flights, nor book tickets for April departures.

Ryanair said they were “temporarily inaccessible”.

In a statement on its webste, the airline said: “We are working with our reservations system provider, Navitaire, to restore these systems as soon as possible.

“Any passengers who have not already checked in online, may have difficulty doing so for the next couple of hours and they can check-in at the airport free of charge while we restore the Navitaire system.

“We apologise sincerely for any inconvenience suffered by passengers as a result of this brief disruption to April bookings & check-in.

“There is no disruption to bookings being made in May, June July or thereafter & all today’s flights are operating as scheduled.”

The message on Ryanair’s website

(Ryanair.com)

Simon Calder14 April 2022 13:31

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‘Shambolic’ queues at UK airports seen on Thursday

Passengers at Manchester and Birmingham airports shared pictures on social media of lines stretching far away from check-in desks on Thursday morning, with one saying the situation was “utterly shambolic”.

Train stations also appeared to be busy, with one passenger saying there was “carnage” as people waited for services, while delays were also seen on motorways.

Images on social media showed a large number of people waiting for Tui check-in desks at Manchester Airport, with other customers telling of a 90-minute wait for luggage.

A firm spokesperson said: “We can confirm that unfortunately due to staff shortages at Manchester Airport today, some customers are experiencing longer-than-usual queue times at check-in.

“Please be assured that our teams are working as quickly as they can.”

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Jet2 launches Athens flights from Manchester and Birmingham

Jet2 today launched its first flights to the Greek capital, Athens, from Manchester and Birmingham Airports.

Two services per week (Thursday and Sunday) will fly from each base until the end of October.

The operator now flies to 15 locations in Greece.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2, said: “As the UK’s leading airline and tour operator to Greece, we are delighted to see our first flights take off to Athens from Manchester and Birmingham Airports today.

“It is fantastic to be operating flights and city breaks to this historic city for the first time, as we know that Athens is a destination that customers want to get to.”

Lucy Thackray14 April 2022 12:09

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Network Rail to carry out 530 engineering projects over Easter

Network Rail has announced it will carry out some 530 engineering projects over Easter, costing a total of £83 million.

This includes the closure of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Milton Keynes (Friday 15 to Monday 18 April) for upgrades and HS2 works.

Re-signalling and crossing works will also commence at Clapham Junction, while HS2 works and line upgrades will also be inaction at London Euston and Watford North Junction stations.

Network Rail said that 95 per cent of the network would be unaffected by the improvements.

Chief executive Andrew Haines said: “The majority of the railway will be open as usual this Easter for people to take a short break or visit loved ones, but some routes will be affected by our upgrade works, so we’re asking passengers to plan ahead and check their journeys in advance.

“We’ll be carrying out hundreds of vital projects that will improve passengers’ journeys in future – for example by improving reliability and boosting capacity on the network.”

Lucy Thackray14 April 2022 11:43

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P&O Ferries apologises to Dover-Calais passengers and offers alternative sailings

Four weeks ago, P&O Ferries ordered all its vessels to tie up and await an important announcement.

Nearly 800 crew were told that they were being made redundant and would be replaced by cheaper agency staff.

Since then P&O has resumed sailings on all its routes except the most crucial: Dover-Calais.

A spokesperson for the company said: “We apologise unreservedly to all customers whose scheduled journeys with us between Dover and Calais have been cancelled whilst we are unable to sail.

“It is only fair and right that we make alternative arrangements for those customers, which include transferring them onto our Hull-Europoort service to Rotterdam, or booking them onto services with Brittany Ferries between Portsmouth and Caen.

“Both of these options are at no extra cost to customers – if anyone chooses either of these alternatives we will reimburse them for any additional mileage expenses incurred and as well as all meals onboard our overnight crossing. Customers will also receive a 25 per cent discount on their original fare.

“We also recognise that these options will not be suitable for everyone, therefore any customer who booked directly with P&O Ferries will be able to claim a full refund and a free trip for future travel.

“We thank customers for their patience during this time and apologise again to those whose journeys have been disrupted.”

Simon Calder14 April 2022 11:12

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Heathrow Terminal 2 passport queues ‘stretching to 90 minutes’

Many passengers arriving at Britain’s busiest airport this morning face long delays at passport control, attributed to staff shortage at UK Border Force.

Natasha Porter arrived at Heathrow Terminal 2 at 8.45am on Air Canada from Toronto, where she had connected from the Dominican Republic. She was travelling with two passengers.

On arrival they were told the main passport hall was too crowded, and they were directed to what Ms Porter describes as “a side corridor”

She says: “A man gave a speech about short staffing and having to hold us here.”

Eventually they cleared passport control at 10.15am, 90 minutes after arrival.

Passengers at Terminal 5, the main hub for British Airways, experienced faster processing – partly because BA has cancelled dozens of flights due to its own staff shortage.

Simon Calder14 April 2022 10:42