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Staycations boom: Families weigh-up traffic hell at home over queue chaos at the airports

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Budget holiday operators are preparing for a bumper summer as Britain’s families weigh up whether to risk airport and flight chaos going abroad or remain in the UK for a staycation in the coming months.

Haven, which has 41 holiday parks in the UK, is already more than 90 per cent booked for Easter with nearly half of its 2.5million visitors this year booking for the first time – while Parkdean Resorts, which has 66 parks, is having to hire 7,000 seasonal workers across sales, food, drink and housekeeping to keep up with record-breaking demand.

Travel experts told MailOnline that the ongoing flight chaos amid staff shortages will be a ‘bonus for the staycation economy’ with families already considering whether to risk last-minute flight cancellations or stay in Britain.

But the staycation boom is not being seen across all parts of the industry, with bookings for Airbnb properties in the South West down by 15 per cent compared to 2021 – and demand appearing to have returned to 2019 levels.  

And UK resorts could also face issues attracting families who are still trying to use booking vouchers for foreign holidays because of cancelled flights or trips in the past few years, which makes them less likely to stay in Britain.

Others will have had their holiday budget squeezed or wiped out completely by cost-of-living pressures which are set to leave £900 British households worse off this year in a ‘historic fall’ in living standards according to PwC. 

It comes after a week of chaotic scenes across UK airports – with passengers facing long queues for security, lengthy waits at baggage reclaim and hundreds of flights cancelled every day amid a lack of staff due to Covid sickness and airlines attempting to quickly restaff following a downsizing of operations during the pandemic. 

But those staying in the UK also face travel chaos as record numbers plan an Easter trip and disruption at Dover continues. The RAC said 21.5million drivers are preparing to take to the roads ahead of the four-day weekend.

Haven, Haggerston Castle

Haven, Haggerston Castle

The cheapest seven-day holiday available from Haven for a family-of-four in the first week of August (Friday, August 5 to Friday, August 12, 2022) is at its Haggerston Castle site in Northumberland, where a stay in a caravan will cost £655

Parkdean, Crimdon Dene

Parkdean, Crimdon Dene

The cheapest option on Parkdean Resorts for a family on the same dates is a caravan for £699 at Crimdon Dene in Durham

Butlins, Minehead

Butlins, Minehead

The cheapest rate with Butlins for a family on the same dates is at Minehead where a standard room is £950 for the week

Haven, which is Britain’s largest domestic holiday business, said it is expecting more newcomers to its 41 resorts than ever before this year – and recent travel disruption is also making more people consider staying in the UK.

The company’s managing director Simon Palethorpe told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: ‘I think it [the travel disruption] has made people think a bit more about holidaying at home. 

What are the cheapest summer holiday options available in August? 

HAVEN 

Haggerston Castle, Northumberland  Caravan £655

PARKDEAN RESORTS 

Crimdon Dene, Durham  Caravan £699

BUTLINS

Minehead, Somerset  Standard room £950

TUI

Domus Sessoriana, Rome Bed and breakfast – £998 (with Gatwick return flights)

ON THE BEACH

Ionian Sea View Hotel, Corfu £1,129 (with Teesside return flights)

JET2 HOLIDAYS

Eleana Studios, Kefalonia £1,332 (with Manchester return flights)

‘More generally things are looking pretty positive for our industry at the moment. This Easter for example, Haven – which is actually the UK’s largest domestic holiday business – is over 90 per cent booked, and more generally this year we’re going to be welcoming 2.5million holidaymakers to our 41 parks. 

‘And we’re seeing more newcomers to Haven, which is I think pretty interesting, more newcomers than ever. This year we’re going to see somewhere north of one million new holidaymakers trying us out. So we’re very excited about that.’

Asked whether cost pressures are affecting Haven, and whether the company is having to put up prices, Mr Palethorpe continued: ‘We’re definitely seeing some inflation coming through in some of our costs, but we still represent great value for money.’

He added: ‘I’d say there’s a few things that are happening at the moment. In terms of where are the costs for someone wanting a three-night break are concerned, we’re at levels still that are comparable to 2019. What you will see is a bit less discounting in the market because the demand is so strong. 

‘So it’s not a simple case of prices rising – it is actually more complex than that. So you see a bit less discounting – but there’s still absolutely fabulous value for money to be had out there. Where else could you get a 2022 three-night break for £69?’

Mr Palethorpe also said that concerns over congestion on the roads are not affecting demand at Haven, because the majority of customers visit from within two hours’ drive of the parks. 

He added that there are currently about 10,500 members of its team on parks at the moment, but the company will peak at about 12,500 in the summer. Almost 80 per cent of the staff are seasonal – such as lifeguards, chefs, kitchen managers, bar staff and accommodation teams. 

On wages, Mr Palethorpe said:  ‘We are paying a little bit more, and that’s just us adjusting to where the market is.’ 

Ionian Sea View Hotel in Corfu

Ionian Sea View Hotel in Corfu

The cheapest family holiday on the same dates via OnTheBeach is at the Ionian Sea View Hotel in Corfu for £1,129, including return flights from Teesside Airport

Eleana Studios in Kefalonia, Greece

Eleana Studios in Kefalonia, Greece

The cheapest holiday on Jet 2 is at the Eleana Studios in Kefalonia, Greece, for £1,332 with return flights from Manchester 

Tui, Domus Sessoriana in Rome

Tui, Domus Sessoriana in Rome

Tui is offering seven nights at the Domus Sessoriana in Rome with return flights from Gatwick for £998 for a family in August

Another major UK holiday park operator, Parkdean Resorts, is also enjoying the results of a staycation boom and plans to invest £140million on its accommodation and facilities across its 66 UK parks this year.

A week of getaway woe: Record numbers taking to the roads over Easter 

Motorists face a week of travel chaos as record numbers plan an Easter getaway and disruption at Dover continues.

The RAC warned of motorway gridlocks as a record 21.5 million drivers prepare to take to the roads ahead of the four-day weekend.

Its research showed Good Friday is set to be the busiest, with 4.62 million trips planned, followed by Easter Monday, when just under 4 million drivers are expected to be out and about.

A further 7.2 million will travel on Saturday and Sunday, with another 5.6 million not yet decided on which day they will set off. 

More than 500 engineering works are taking place amid strikes on vast swathes of northern rail routes. It will create mayhem for the thousands of football fans travelling to London for the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley.

It comes as severe disruption on roads in Kent leading to cross-Channel services looks set to continue for days.

The bottlenecks have been caused by soaring numbers of drivers looking to reach the Continent for Easter getaways and the suspension of P&O Ferries services.

P&O Ferries ships will not sail from Dover to Calais until at least Thursday, with rival carriers struggling to soak up the extra demand.

Europe-bound motorists have reported being stuck in traffic for six hours on Kent roads, and a 20-mile stretch of the M20 has been closed to store more than 4,000 lorries.

To make matters worse, getaways will be the most expensive on record due to sky-high fuel prices. There could also be diesel or petrol shortages due to protesting eco-warriors blocking off fuel terminals, slowing down deliveries.

RAC traffic spokesman Rod Dennis said: ‘You have all the ingredients needed for problems on the roads.’

The investment includes more than 850 new caravans and lodges, new developments at 16 parks and refubuishm chalets and lodges. It has said advance bookings are at record levels and it is also launching a recruitment drive for 7,000 seasonal jobs.

Parkdean chief executive Steve Richards said: ‘This investment is great news for our customers, staff and the local economies in which we operate.’

He added: ‘2021 was a huge year for staycations, and our teams will continue to go above and beyond to deliver phenomenal service for our guests, making sure that 2022 is even better.’ 

But it comes as cancellations for air passengers are expected to continue amid staff shortages and workers being absent with Covid.

There was more misery for fliers yesterday after British Airways cancelled another 82 flights and easyJet slashed 38. 

Richard Moriarty, the Civil Aviation Authority chief executive, warned in recent days: ‘As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic and consumers take advantage of the freedom to travel, instances of late notice cancellations and excessive delays at airports are not just distressing for affected consumers but have the potential to impact confidence levels across the industry, at just the point when passengers are returning to flying.’ 

And Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, told MailOnline today: ‘If long queues at airports and flight cancellations by airlines continue for too much longer then some consumers will be put off from travelling abroad.

‘Ongoing staff shortages add more risk to a trip because consumers won’t want to be potentially out of pocket from last-minute cancellations and having to fork out for new flights or an extra night in an hotel.

‘With the potential for an overseas trip to be badly affected, more consumers, especially families, are already booking to stay in a UK cottage, house or hotel by the coast or in the countryside.

‘Staycations will be highly popular again this year and airport and flight chaos will be a bonus for the staycation economy. We just have to hope for continuing great weather.’ 

Temperatures could reach 21C (70F) in eastern and South East England by Thursday, as warm as Nice in the south of France. 

And highs of up to 20C (68F) are possible into Good Friday and Easter Saturday, with the rest of the Easter weekend likely to remain fine and dry in most areas. 

However, booking numbers at Airbnbs in the UK compiled by AirDNA for the Daily Telegraph showed that demand in April 2022 was down on last year.

It had fallen 15 per cent for properties in Penzance, 10 per cent in Plymouth and 8 per cent in Falmouth.

VisitEngland says up to 7.4 million people are planning an overnight holiday in Britain for the Easter weekend, which brings levels back in line with those of 2019, before the pandemic began. 

Heathrow records busiest month since Covid began

Heathrow Airport has recorded its busiest month since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The London airport said it was used by 4.2 million passengers in March. This represents nearly an eight-fold increase on the total during the same month in 2021.

A spike in coronavirus-related staff absences, combined with difficulties finding and passing security checks for new recruits, means the aviation sector has struggled to cope with the number of people flying in recent weeks.

Heathrow admitted ‘resources are stretched’ but described how it is ‘working closely with airlines and ground handlers to make sure this increase in demand can be met while keeping passengers safe’.

Chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: ‘It is fantastic to see the airport coming back to life after two years, and I want to thank all team Heathrow colleagues for working together to serve our passengers. Everyone at Heathrow is doing everything we can to make sure passengers get on their way as smoothly and safely as possible.’

The rise in passengers was attributed to the Government’s removal of all coronavirus travel restrictions. Demand was driven by outbound leisure travel at weekends and during school holidays.

There is ‘congestion in check-in areas at peak times’ as ‘half of global markets’ still require passengers to pass coronavirus checks such as testing and vaccination status, according to Heathrow. Departing passengers are advised to check with their airline to confirm when they should arrive at the airport.

Heathrow added that ‘other airport processes are currently working to plan’ and it is working with Border Force to ‘ensure sufficient levels of resource are in place to cope with the large number of passengers returning to the UK over the next couple of weeks’.

Meanwhile, new figures show Heathrow slipped from the second busiest airport for international travel before the pandemic to number seven in 2021.

Airports Council International said Heathrow was used by 17.6 million international passengers last year, down 77 per cent on the total for 2019. Dubai maintained its spot at the top of the ranking. The five airports to overtake Heathrow in 2021 were Istanbul, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Doha.

Figures for Easter 2019 were the highest on record – and up from 4.8million in 2018 and 6.6million in 2017.

The organisation’s chief executive Patricia Yates told the Daily Telegraph that the UK tourism industry is concerned that Britons are now very keen to go abroad now travel restrictions have been lifted, but added that international travellers ‘are not quite coming back at the pace we need them to’.

Talking about 2022 demand matching 2019 levels, Ms Yates added: ‘That’s good in that it gets us on the road to recovery, but it’s not brilliant.’

Meanwhile motorists face a week of travel chaos as record numbers plan an Easter Bank Holiday getaway and disruption at Dover continues.

The RAC warned major roads risk becoming gridlocked as a record 21.5million drivers are preparing to take to the roads during the forthcoming four-day weekend.

Its research showed Good Friday is set to be the busiest, with 4.62million trips planned, followed by Easter Monday, when just under 4million drivers are expected to be on the roads.

A further 7.2million will jump behind the wheel on Saturday and Sunday with another 5.6million, as yet undecided on which day to travel, doing so between Friday and Monday.

Holidaymakers are being urged not to set off after 9am or before 7.30pm and avoid some of the busiest routes.

The roads are expected to be much busier than usual due to a mini-heatwave being forecasted and a widespread shutdown of the railways over the long weekend.

More than 500 engineering works are taking place across the UK amid strikes on vast swathes of northern rail routes.

It will create mayhem for the thousands of football fans travelling to London for the FA Cup semi-finals, between Manchester City and Liverpool and Chelsea and Crystal Palace, at Wembley stadium. The FA has urged fans not to travel by rail.

It comes as severe disruption on roads in Kent leading to cross-Channel services looks set to continue for several days.

The bottlenecks have been caused by soaring numbers of drivers looking to reach the Continent for Easter getaways and the suspension of P&O Ferries services.

P&O ships will not sail from Dover to Calais again until at least Thursday, with rival carriers struggling to soak up the extra demand. It has also caused Eurotunnel in Folkestone to become overwhelmed.

The disgraced firm’s ships are yet to be cleared as fit to sail by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency after it brutally sacked 800 staff and replaced them with cheaper agency workers.

Continent-bound motorists have reported being stuck in traffic for six hours on coast-bound Kent roads.

A more than 20-mile stretch of the M20 has been closed to store more than 4,000 lorries as part of Operation Brock.

Airline passengers complained of'shambolic' crowd control at'chaotic' Manchester Airport this morning amid further chaos

Airline passengers complained of ‘shambolic’ crowd control at ‘chaotic’ Manchester Airport this morning amid further chaos

Passengers sat on the floor of London Gatwick Airport today after waiting more than an hour and a half for their luggage

Passengers sat on the floor of London Gatwick Airport today after waiting more than an hour and a half for their luggage

Long queues at check-in desks at Birmingham Airport today, with hundreds of passengers waiting for Jet2 flights this morning

Long queues at check-in desks at Birmingham Airport today, with hundreds of passengers waiting for Jet2 flights this morning

Yesterday hauliers reported delays of ’20 to 25 hours’ for crossing the Channel. Those carrying perishable goods urged the authorities to prioritise them before their products, including meat and dairy, go bad.

Good timing! Hottest day of year is on the way 

After hard frosts, sleet and snow showers, sunny and warm weather will return over Easter weekend – and could bring the hottest day of the year.

Temperatures could reach 21C (70F) in eastern and south-east England by Thursday, as warm as Nice in the south of France. And highs of up to 20C (68F) are possible into Good Friday and Easter Saturday, with the rest of the Easter weekend likely to remain fine and dry in most areas.

Sleet and snow spread as far south as the Peak District on Friday, and a hard frost on Saturday night saw lows of -6C (21F) at Sennybridge in South Wales, -4.5C (23.9F) at South Newington, Oxfordshire, and -4.1C (24.6F) at Santon Downham, Suffolk.

Today and tomorrow will see sunny spells and showers, but temperatures are set to build, with highs of 17C (63F) in southern England today rising as high as 20-21C (68-70F) in London, Cambridgeshire and East Anglia by Thursday. The warmest day so far was March 23, at 20.8C (69.4F) in St James’s Park in London.

Graham Eardley, boss of meat haulier Eardley International, said: ‘Our products have a very short shelf life… the quality and the sale value of that product falls by every hour it is delayed.’ 

Non-freight traffic is being advised to use the A20 instead of the M20.

To make matters worse, getaways look certain to be the most expensive on record due to sky-high fuel prices.

There could also be diesel or petrol shortages at some service stations due to protesting eco-warriors blocking off fuel terminals, slowing down deliveries.

The RAC’s traffic spokesman, Rod Dennis, said: ‘After two years of relatively quiet Easter bank holidays on the roads, our research suggests a return to traffic levels that are much more typical of this time of year.

‘Add in the impact of disruption on the rail network and one of the biggest fixtures of the sporting calendar taking place this weekend and you have all the ingredients needed for problems on the roads.’ 

He urged motorists to do basic checks such as on oil and coolant levels before setting off to avoid breakdowns creating bottlenecks.

National Highways said it was lifting more than a thousand miles of roadworks for the busy period.

But during peak hours, drivers are still being urged to avoid the M6 north-bound between Junction 26 (Orrell Interchange, Greater Manchester) and J36 (the Lake District), the M25 clockwise from J8 (Reigate Hill Interchange, Surrey) to J16 (Denham Interchange, Buckinghamshire) and the A303 near Stonehenge, Wiltshire.

The M6 south-bound between J20 (near Warrington) and J16 (Stoke-on-Trent) and the M3 north-bound between J3 (Eastleigh) and J7 (Basingstoke) should also be avoided.

Bob Pishue, analyst at traffic data specialists INRIX, said: ‘Drivers should expect congestion on major roadways around urban areas and popular destinations.’

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