Delays on planes and trains hit getaway
Simon Calder is Travel Editor at Large for The Independent, writing a weekly column, various articles and features as well as filming a weekly video diary. Every Sunday afternoon, Simon presents the UK's only radio travel phone-in programme called The LBC Travel Show with Simon Calder (97.3 FM). He is a regular guest on national TV, often seen on BBC Breakfast, Daybreak, ITV News and Sky News. He is often interviewed on BBC Radio, particularly for BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours programme and BBC Five Live.
Saturday 21 July 2012
Eleven-hour flight delays, emergency railway repairs and threatened strikes signalled the start of the main summer getaway.
More than two million holidaymakers are expected to ignore the start of the Olympics and travel abroad this weekend for a stay of a week or more. But airports are likely to be extremely crowded, while forest fires in Spain and Portugal are causing alarm.
The exodus coincides with a forecast of a radical improvement in the weather for England and Wales. By tomorrow and Monday, temperatures may reach 27C (81F).
Yesterday morning's Air Transat flight from Gatwick to Toronto was finally expected to take off around 10pm last night, which was also the time the Jet2 arrival from Murcia was due at Manchester after a delay of nine hours. British Airways cancelled flights from Heathrow and Gatwick to Toulouse, Brussels, Manchester and Amsterdam.
Heathrow was operating smoothly despite the extra strain from the Olympics; nearly half a million passengers are expected to pass through the airport this weekend. A strike by UK Border Force staff may disrupt Thursday, expected to be Heathrow's busiest-ever day.
East Midlands Trains drivers plan to strike early in August, but today the problem is a landslip that has closed the line between Grantham and Nottingham .
Abnormally heavy traffic was reported yesterday evening on key motorways, including the M1, M25, M3 and M5. Routes to the south-west are expected to be congested today, along with the M2 and M20 to Dover and Folkestone.
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