Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

49-HOUR HOLIDAY FLIGHT DELAY; Gatwick Gripped by Chaos as More Destinations Suffer

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

49-HOUR HOLIDAY FLIGHT DELAY; Gatwick Gripped by Chaos as More Destinations Suffer

Article excerpt

Byline: ROB MCNEIL;RICHARD HOLLIDAY

HOLIDAY flights out of Gatwick are in chaos today with one jet delayed 49 hours by the Spanish coach-drivers' strike.

Thousands of angry and frustrated holidaymakers remain stranded in Majorca while others face increasingly long delays at airports around Britain. One Airtours flight from Gatwick to Palma which should have left at 10.10pm on Saturday is not scheduled to leave until 11.30pm today - a delay of 49 hours 20 minutes.

Flights from Birmingham to Palma which should have gone at 11.25pm on Saturday and 9am on Sunday are now set to leave from Manchester with "priority slots" today.

Destinations outside the Balearic Islands now affected include Cyprus, Turkey, mainland Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands and even Jamaica.

Travellers have been warned they face a summer of continuing misery after the striking drivers, whose action was due to end at midnight last night, rejected a new pay deal and threatened fresh action in 10 days' time.

Gatwick's general manager Richard Stocks said: "I would urge all passengers travelling today to check with their airline or tour operator in advance. The knock-on effect of aircraft not being in the right place means that other destinations are being affected."

At Gatwick, thousands of passengers were forced to continue camping out last night. Three flights to the Balearics were delayed by more than 24 hours, while 20 further departures and 15 arrivals suffered delays.

One family from Ashford, Middlesex, had arrived at Gatwick at 6am yesterday morning to check in for their 8am flight to Cyprus. At midnight last night, they bedded down in the airport, having been told that the earliest their flight would leave was 8am today. "It is an absolute disgrace, I'm disgusted," said Dennis Mantle, a 30-year-old gardener at Hampton Court Palace.

"We knew about the delays to flights to Spain, but we didn't think that a coach strike in Spain would affect Cyprus - it's thousands of miles away, for heaven's sake.

"But as soon as we arrived here, we were told that there would be a 12-hour hold-up. …

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