Long queues of Britons at Palma airport this week. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter


An argument has broken out in the UK over who is to blame for the current travel disruption which is spreading to airports across Europe such as Palma, which has its own problems due to a lack of police at passport control to handle British tourists.

Labour has accused ministers of being "asleep at the wheel" over travel chaos at airports - after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government had "done its part".

And ABTA – The Travel Association has responded to the comments from Transport Secretary today about the travel difficulties some people have experienced this week.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive from ABTA – The Travel Association said: “The return of international travel after two years of heavy government restrictions on the industry, and minimal levels of financial support was never going to happen without challenge. While the vast majority of people have been able to get away on holiday this week, it is of course disappointing for those who have been caught up in delays or who have seen their travel plans cancelled. ABTA has been providing advice and guidance to customers throughout this time, appearing on national and local radio and TV to put the issues into context and advise consumers of their rights.

“The comments from the Government this week are deeply frustrating and do not correlate with the events of the last two years. ABTA, along with the rest of the industry, warned the Government time and time again that thousands of jobs would be lost, and the industry’s recovery would be delayed if the Government did not provide sector-specific support for the travel industry.

“The lack of recognition from Government that it was only March this year when all UK travel restrictions had been lifted, despite furlough being reduced from July 2021 and then removed altogether in September, is particularly disappointing.

“We have been in touch directly with the government to share our dismay with Ministerial comments this week, and to urge officials to look at how red tape in the recruitment process can be reduced to help the sector. It is welcome the Transport Secretary has committed to engagement with the industry and it is vitally important that any conversations involve the wider travel industry alongside airports and airlines.”

Grant Shapps has told airlines to stop selling tickets for flights they cannot staff after a spate of airline cancellations caused widespread disruption for holidaymakers.

Airports across Europe have struggled to cope with the rebound in demand but British airports are facing a particularly difficult week as a school half-term holiday combines with a long Jubilee public holiday weekend.

Airports faced similar queues over the Easter vacation, and Shapps said that while some steps had been taken, there had not been the progress that is needed.

“We need to make sure there is no repeat of the scenes witnessed over the last few days. Despite government warnings, operators seriously oversold flights and holidays relative to their capacity to deliver,” Shapps said.