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Motorists warned of busy roads as Platinum Jubilee getaway begins

Roads are expected to be busy as the Platinum Jubilee weekend begins (Matthew Cooper/PA)
Roads are expected to be busy as the Platinum Jubilee weekend begins (Matthew Cooper/PA)

Britain’s roads are expected to be busy as the four-day bank holiday weekend begins.

It comes as airports across the UK have struggled to cope with demand during half-term, with hopeful holidaymakers forced to wait in lengthy queues and some facing flight cancellations.

Some 10,794 flights are scheduled to depart from UK airports between Thursday and Sunday, but passengers will be wary of further disruption.

An estimated 19 million drivers are predicted to take to the roads at some point over the long Platinum Jubilee weekend, according to a survey by the AA.

Drivers should be prepared for delays around supermarkets and other shopping centres, according to AA president Edmund King.

Andy Marchant, traffic expert at location technology firm TomTom, warned that motorists can expect “high levels of congestion” on UK roads, and advised travelling before noon or after 8pm to avoid the worst of the queues.

City of London Police warned of road closures in the capital from Thursday evening until Friday afternoon due to the royals attending a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Meanwhile Jubilee street parties, expected to take place on Sunday, will see many roads closed.

There have been lengthy queues at some of Britain's airports during half-term (Stephen Jones/PA)
There have been lengthy queues at some of Britain’s airports already during half-term (Stephen Jones/PA)

A snap poll of a dozen councils by the Local Government Association, reported at the weekend, showed they had approved more than 1,000 street parties.

Extrapolated nationally, it could mean more than 16,000 celebratory bashes.

Amid continued chaotic scenes at Britain’s airports, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has warned aviation industry leaders they must “do their bit” to resolve problems.

Mr Shapps and aviation minister Robert Courts led what the Department for Transport (DfT) described as a “productive meeting” with industry figures representing airports, airlines and ground handling companies on Wednesday.

Mr Shapps warned that resourcing strains on the sector do “not excuse poor planning and overbooking flights that they (airlines) cannot service”.

He described scenes at airports with delays and cancellations as “heart-breaking” as some holidaymakers had hoped to take their first trips abroad after the pandemic.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps met with senior leaders from the aviation industry after chaotic scenes at airports (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps met with senior leaders from the aviation industry after chaotic scenes at airports (Gareth Fuller/PA)

More than 150 UK flights were cancelled on Wednesday.

Mr Shapps, who warned the aviation leaders that there cannot be a repeat of such disruption over the summer, also emphasised his concerns that airline passengers are being unfairly sold tickets for holidays they cannot go on.

He said he will continue to discuss options for introducing automatic refunds for passengers.

He said companies who have seen the most disruption “need to learn from those who ran services smoothly” and vowed to continue to monitor the situation closely.

He said he and Mr Courts “have made the changes needed to allow the sector to prepare for summer, but now we need industry to do their bit”.

He added: “We have been crystal clear – run services properly and according to schedule or provide swift, appropriate compensation. We do not want to see a repeat of this over the summer – the first post-Covid summer season – and will be meeting again in the coming weeks to understand the progress that is being made.”

The chief executive of Airlines UK, Tim Alderslade, said the problem is not “an airline issue or an airport issue or a Government issue”, but they all “ultimately have to work together to solve this”.

Those in attendance at the meeting included British Airways, easyJet and TUI Airways – all of which have seen cancellations – while airports represented included Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Luton and Newcastle.

Aviation data firm Cirium said 377 flights from UK airports were cancelled in the seven days up to and including Tuesday.

The aviation industry is suffering from staff shortages after letting thousands of people go during the coronavirus pandemic.

Airlines and airports repeatedly called for sector-specific financial support during the Covid-19 crisis as Government travel restrictions suppressed demand.

They are now struggling to recruit new workers and have their security checks processed.

The DfT said the Government and aviation industry will form a working group ahead of the summer holidays to “work through issues of shared concern together”.

Mr Shapps and Mr Courts were said to have stressed during Wednesday’s meeting that the Government remains committed to supporting the sector and called for better packages to be offered within the industry to help build a resilient workforce to meet demand.