People from the UK travelling to and from the continent today are being hit by the double-whammy of stringent new passport checks and a strike by air-traffic controllers in France. The government timed the introduction of new passport checking procedures so they would not delay travellers over Easter.
The procedure is being staggered over the next two months to avoid major travel upsets. From today immigration officers at both airports and seaports are required to scan the passports of people leaving the UK, but only verify the details of one quarter.
The percentage of verification checks will increase to 50 per cent in May and 100 per cent a month later. The checks are expected to impact motorists and bus passengers using the English Channel port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel.
A statement issued by P&O Ferries said the company expected passengers to face delays, but on the bright side added that parliament had chosen a good day to instigate the checks. The statement noted that scans did not take any time at all and that it was the verification process that would be a problem.
France’s air-traffic controllers began a 48-hour strike today in protest over working arrangements. French airspace is among Europe’s busiest and up to 8,000 flights day traverse it. Around 40 per cent of the flights have already been cancelled.
The worst affected is Air France, but airlines such as British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair all say they expect the strike to cause delays to their flights. An EasyJet spokesperson said staff would be getting in touch with people affected, but also urged passengers to check their flight statuses.