Flight cancellations and London tube strike hamper Britons’ return to work

Transport troubles have hampered the return to work for many after the jubilee weekend, with more flight cancellations and a tube strike causing widespread disruption.

EasyJet cancelled a further 37 flights on Monday, as the staffing issues that have plagued the airline over half-term continued. Thousands more passengers had their travel plans upturned, after more than 80 flight cancellations by the airline on Sunday.

The airline blamed a “challenging operating environment” for the cancellations, which left some customers stranded abroad at the end of the half-term holiday.

Worker shortages as international travel rebounded have been blamed by airlines and airports for most of the recent disruption, compounded by air traffic control restrictions and bad weather in recent days.

An easyJet spokesperson apologised and said the airline was extending its customer service operation to help affected passengers. They said: “EasyJet is operating more than 1,700 flights today carrying almost 300,000 customers. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing challenging operating environment about 37 flights have been cancelled today ahead of customers arriving at the airport.”

A small number of Wizz, BA and Tui flights were also cancelled on Monday. Gatwick, the airport most affected by easyJet cancellations over the last week, said it was otherwise operating normally.

Europe’s air traffic agency, Eurocontrol, has warned that problems with meeting resurgent demand for travel could persist over the next six weeks, with “insufficient capacity to cope” in some regions. It added that the period was “likely to be extremely challenging for most airports”, in a briefing note.

London Heathrow announced it would be reopening Terminal 4 next week, easing some of the pressure on check-ins and security for other airlines, including BA in Terminal 5.

The Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “While we are still years away from passenger numbers returning to pre-pandemic levels, reopening Terminal 4 will give airlines at Heathrow extra space across the airport, helping them manage the impact additional travel documents continue to have on check-in times.”

Eurostar said its services were operating normally on Monday, with minor delays, after thousands of passengers for London waited hours until Sunday evening to board trains, delayed because of power failures on the line north of Paris.

Passengers in London suffered disruption from a 24-hour tube strike that left most underground stations in central London closed, forcing many people attempting to travel on to crowded buses and busier roads.

The strike was the latest walkout by 4,000 members of the RMT union over Transport for London (TfL) plans to reduce station staffing numbers. While the effects of tube strikes have been lessened by the ability of many people to now work from home – as well as the availability of the new Elizabeth line, which like overground services continued to run as normal – many journeys remained badly affected.

Paul Glennon, 52, a construction worker in central London, told the PA news agency that it was “back to reality” after the weekend’s parties and parades, adding: “I have spent my whole morning getting on and waiting for packed buses in the rain. Bloody nightmare.”

Waiting at Paddington station in the morning rush, another construction worker, Miguel Basantes, 54, said: “It is chaos. In Liverpool Street there was crowds of people and I was waiting for 20 or 30 minutes. I don’t know how to get to work.”