My trip to Finland for the 15th International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations was my first visit to Europe since the UK chose to Brexit. Two and a half years of Covid has enabled the government to blame the pandemic, rather than Brexit, for the dislocation of our trade, and now they are threatening to change an international agreement unilaterally; an agreement which the same prime minister lauded as an outstanding achievement.
Arriving at Helsinki airport, I went through the “other passports” channel and faced the usual questions: why am I coming to Finland, how long am I staying… The same questions that the “others” are asked at airports worldwide. I am now “other” than European, and that hurts.
It took just 50 minutes from the station platform at Helsinki airport to a beer in the departure lounge. Contrast that with the chaos at UK airports in the last few weeks.
The UK’s Minister for Transport denies that Brexit is any part of the cause of the chaos. The aviation minister, Robert Courts, told MPs on the business select committee it was “not likely” that leaving the EU played a part in the chronic staff shortages afflicting aviation.
“This has been flatly contradicted by the chief executive of easyJet” said Johann Lundgren, to the The Independent, that some of the operating issues were down to difficulties hiring workers after Brexit. 8,000 job applications from European Union citizens have been rejected by his firm because candidates did not have permission to work in the UK.
The pool of people is smaller, it’s just maths. We have to turn down a huge number of EU nationals because of Brexit.Johann Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet
Aviation chaos: We need to talk about Brexit https://t.co/DsNdiqPvX8— The Independent (@Independent) May 31, 2022
The airlines have been told to cut the number of flights out of the UK. easyJet now plans to run 90% of the pre-Covid number of flights. Heathrow has asked airlines flying from Terminals 2 and 3 to cancel 10 per cent of their schedules today due to mounting problems with its baggage handling.
On Friday easyJet’s main base, Gatwick airport, said it was placing a cap of 825 movements per day in July and 850 in August, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
WIZZ AIR’s chief “has blamed Brexit Britain’s immigration policy for ongoing travel disruption at airports and labour shortages in the aviation industry”.
O’Leary, of Ryanair, told AFP that “100 percent” of the woes experienced by air passengers in the UK — including massively long lines and cancelled flights — was because “Brexit has been a shambles”.
“Brexit is one of the big bugbears in the system.”— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 21, 2022
CEO of Ryanair Michael O’Leary says the disruption at airports could be resolved “very quickly and very rapidly” if the industry could bring in European workers. #KayBurley: https://t.co/JpK7Gp8tmw pic.twitter.com/yKWgzLYlTz
Jet2 boss blames airport hell on Brexit ‘taking millions out of the job market’.
A study in 2007 concluded that the English Channel was formed by erosion caused by two major floods; the first was about 425,000 years ago, the second 225,000 years ago. We joined Europe in 1973 and the Channel Tunnel created a physical link – although initially, we built a motorway to a road tunnel. Not until November 1994 did Eurostar services run.
The “fog in the channel” quip is on my mind again because I feel increasingly cut off from Europe as new post-Brexit regulations disrupt travel. As the UK imposes more customs regulations on imports from the EU late this year, we expect more congestion and delays at channel ports, with lorries queuing for miles down the M20 in Kent causing congestion across the county where I live.