Airlines have cancelled hundreds of flights leading to major disruption for Easter break holidaymakers.
EasyJet called off more than 200 flights over the weekend with a further 62 cancellations on Monday and British Airways cancelled five last-minute.
EasyJet said it was experiencing high levels of illness among employees caused by Covid while BA said Monday’s last-minute cancellations were due to coronavirus-related staff shortages.
The changes have left some passengers stranded in the travel chaos including at Scotland’s major airports.
Scottish crime writer Val McDermid was among those affected.
“In the last 3 days Easyjet have delayed three flights, meaning I had to completely reroute one journey, miss two connections and spend 7 hours in Edinburgh Airport,” she wrote on Twitter.
“And at no point has anyone been available to help the poor passengers rebook or reroute. And there’s no comeback.”
An EasyJet spokesperson said: “As a result of the current high rates of Covid infections across Europe, like all businesses EasyJet is experiencing higher than usual levels of employee sickness.
“We have taken action to mitigate this through the rostering of additional standby crew this weekend, however, with the current levels of sickness we have also decided to make some cancellations in advance which were focused on consolidating flights where we have multiple frequencies so customers have more options to rebook their travel, often on the same day.
“Unfortunately it has been necessary to make some additional cancellations for today and tomorrow. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to customers on affected flights.
“We have made 62 pre-emptive cancellations for flights to and from the UK for tomorrow which represents a small proportion of tomorrow’s total flying programme which was planned to be more than 1645 flights.
“We cancelled the majority of these yesterday.”
Edinburgh Airport warned travellers looking to go abroad to expect queues and disruption last week ahead of a return to full service for the first time in more than two years due to Covid.
Chief executive Gordon Dewar said while passengers returning is welcomed by the team, the busier months ahead will not be without their challenges and the main reason for delays in the summer will be due to staff numbers not reaching pre-pandemic levels in time.
BA cancelled 115 flights to or from Heathrow Airport, STV News understands.
The total includes some flights axed due to last week’s decision by the airline to reduce its schedule until the end of May to boost reliability, as well as routes suspended for several months because of the pandemic, such as those to several Asian destinations.
A spoksperson for the airline said: “We’ve apologised to customers who are affected by this and to limit the inconvenience have re-booked them onto earlier or later flights on the same day they were originally due to travel where possible.
“We’re also offering them the opportunity to book onto an alternative flight or request a full refund.”
Passengers were stuck in long queues as the Easter holidays got under way.
The airport said the congestion was down to Covid checks required by destination countries and “high passenger volumes”.
But there were also reports of staff shortages and problems with the e-gate passport checkpoints as travellers took to social media to air their frustrations, with some saying they had waited hours to take off.
Other travellers said several of the automatic e-gates, staffed by Border Force and used to process passengers, were not operating properly.
The Home Office confirmed there had been a “technical issue” with the checkpoints which has since been resolved, and said the problem had not caused queues to exceed the “standard length” at Heathrow.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Due to high passenger volumes and the Covid documentation checks still required by many end destinations, Terminal 2 departures has experienced some congestion today.
“Our teams are supporting our airline partners to get passengers away on their journeys as quickly as possible and we apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.”
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