Britons stay home over bank holiday

Click to follow
The Independent Online

British Airways' directors, including the company's chief executive, Rod Eddington, took to the floor of Heathrow airport yesterday to help manage the bank holiday getaway. The airline was attempting to avoid a repeat of last week's chaos, which saw more than 100 flights cancelled owing to a lack of staff.

But despite their efforts, a further six flights, to and from Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Phoenix, were axed yesterday, with two return flights to New York cancelled today and on Bank Holiday Monday.

There was better news for passengers on Eurostar. A 24-hour stoppage by customer services workers had, according to managers, little impact.

Despite warnings of traffic congestion, Britain's roads remained relatively clear, with cold, damp weather keeping people at home. Engineering works on the railways also put people off travelling. The Great Western Mainline is closed between London Paddington and Reading, and the West Coast Mainline is closed between Hemel Hempstead and Lichfield and between Stockport and Manchester.

There were some delays on the M40 yesterday as thousands of music fans headed towards the mud-swamped Reading Festival. Flooding meant that some car parks had to be moved away from the festival site, causing further delays.

There are better prospects for the weekend's other great festival. Temperatures in London are likely to top 21C (70F) tomorrow - just in time for the main day of Europe's largest carnival. About a million people are expected over the two days of the Notting Hill Carnival, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

In Manchester, 250,000 people lined the streets yesterday for the city's Gay Pride festival. Eight members of the RAF staffed a special float, the first time any members of the armed forces have been involved in a Gay Pride event with official permission.