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Passport delays threaten summer travel
Jun 9th, 2014 by elisa

Thousands of holidaymakers could miss out on their summer holidays because delays at the Passport Office mean they won’t receive their passports on time. 

The Telegraph reports that some new applications are taking as much as two months to process, leading to fears that the backlog could worsen as the holiday season approaches.

According to some estimates, the backlog has already reached half a million and staff from other departments have now been drafted in to help cope with demand. Unions claim that staff are being forced to “paper over the cracks” by working overtime, and they may be forced to take industrial action unless urgent measures are taken to improve the situation.

Labour’s shadow immigration minister, David Hanson, said the party’s MPs have been “inundated” with complaints from constituents struggling to get their passports in time for holidays, despite applying three weeks in advance as recommended. Mr Hanson said 75 Labour MPs had reported more than 370 complaints, the majority concerning the office in Durham, which processes passport applications for children and people who have changed their names.

A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union said staff are frustrated that they’re unable to provide the level of service that the public expects from the passport office.

The Passport Office denies the extent of the backlog, claiming 97% of straightforward renewals and child applications are being processed in the three week turnaround. It puts the “exceptional early summer demand” down to the improving economy and a rise in holiday bookings.

The guidance on turnaround times are three weeks for straightforward renewals and child passports and six weeks for new adult passports.

Heatwave hits Ryanair’s bookings
Jul 31st, 2013 by elisa

The heatwave might have been great for domestic tourism, but summer bookings for Ryanair were hit because of the more temperate climate across Northern Europe.

Profits fell 21% to 78 million euros in the three months to 30th June, reports the low cost airline.

The timing of the Easter holidays and the impact of the French ATC strikes caused average fares to fall 4%, but revenue per passengers rose 1% due to strong ancillary growth.

It said the close-in summer bookings were slightly less in recent weeks due to the ‘heatwave in in Northern Europe’, but full year guidance remains unchanged.

It said: “While we expect full year traffic to grow 3% to 81.5m, we still have no visibility over next winter’s yields, and on the basis that the recent yield weakness in close-in summer bookings does not continue, we see no reason to change our full year profit after tax guidance which remains at between €570m to €600m.”

Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, said: “As previously guided higher fuel costs and the timing of Easter led to Q1 profits falling €21m to €78m. Ancillary revenues grew by 25% to €357m (27% of total revenues) driven by the successful development of reserved seating, priority boarding, and higher admin credit card fees. “

Summer holidays, busy airports
Jul 25th, 2013 by elisa

Spain is still the top holiday destination. Picture by Flickr user Olli365

It may be one of the hottest summer’s we’ve had for years, but that isn’t stopping the two million holidaymakers set to head overseas this weekend.

As the first weekend of the summer holidays for the majority in England, airports are bracing themselves for one of their busiest weekends of the year. The southeast in particular is going to be very busy with 480,000 passengers departing from Heathrow, 276,000 from Gatwick, 125,000 from Stansted and 70,000 jetting off from Luton.

Further up north 160,000 are due to depart from Manchester, 66,000 from Birmingham, 70,000 from Newcastle, 50,000 from Bristol and 30,000 from Leeds Bradford International. Sottish airports don’t fair too badly either with 50,000 leaving from Glasgow alone.

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “This weekend sees the start of the main summer holiday getaway and it’s one of the busiest of the year.

“Millions of holidaymakers will be heading off overseas with the Mediterranean countries attracting the lion’s share of visitors.

According to ABTA, Spain remains the top holiday destination with the Balearic and Canary Islands selling especially well. Mexico and Cuba are among the top-selling long-haul holidays, although Florida remains the number one choice for families.

Domestic tourism isn’t doing too badly either, thanks to last week’s heatwave boosting bookings with many ABTA members reporting a surge in business to destinations including the Channel Islands, the Lake District, Blackpool, Bournemouth and Brighton.

“The recent amazing weather at home has also given a great boost to domestic tourism and many ABTA members are reporting a surge in last minute bookings for holidays throughout the UK” said Tanzer.

Eurostar is also reporting an increase in passenger numbers on last year, with 70,000 heading off to Paris and the South of France this weekend.

 

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