Port of Dover ‘deeply frustrated’ after declaring critical incident …
The Port of Dover has said it is “deeply frustrated” after officials declared a critical incident due on Friday night.
The port said the delays were “due to lengthy French border processes and sheer volume”.
Just before 9am, a spokesman for the port said: “Coach waiting time is still several hours, but tourist cars are getting through OK.”
P&O Ferries also apologised for the wait times for coaches sailing from Dover, while DFDS said it is expecting a busy weekend and advised passengers to allow extra time to complete border and check-in controls.
P&O Ferries tweeted that it was providing refreshments to coach passengers waiting at the cruise terminal and working on getting food and drink to passengers waiting in the buffer zone at the entrance to the port.
The Port of Dover said on Saturday morning that coach traffic was suffering “significant delays”.
It said in a statement: “The Port of Dover is deeply frustrated by last night’s and this morning’s situation and particularly so on behalf of all the ferry operators’ coach passengers who have had to endure such a long wait at the port.
“Whilst freight and car traffic was processed steadily regardless of the additional challenging weather conditions and high seasonal volumes, coach traffic suffered significant delays due to lengthy French border processes and sheer volume.
“Despite considerable pre-planning with our ferry operators, border agency partners and the Kent Resilience Forum and the success of similar plans for processing substantial numbers of coaches during the most recent half term period, the additional coach bookings taken by ferry operators for Easter, has impacted operations for the port.
“Through the ferry operators and the port, food and drink has been provided to those coach passengers caught up in the border queues.
“We offer our sincere apologies for the prolonged delays that people have endured and continue to work with all of our partners to get all passengers on their way as quickly as possible.”
DFDS Seaways announced on Twitter just after 9pm that the wait time for coaches was approximately seven hours from arrival at the port.
A spokesperson for the operator said: “The queues at Dover today have been as a result of bad weather causing delays to sailings, combined with high volumes of traffic, and particularly coach groups.
“DFDS is working to keep passengers up to date via its website and social media channels, and is transporting passengers on the next available sailing once they have checked in.
“It has also been working with coach operators to speed up the check in process for coach passengers.”
Many families heading to Europe for Easter have chosen take ferry and train journeys across the English Channel to avoid expected strike chaos at UKairports.
Planned journeys by ferry have risen by 25 per cent compared to this time last year, Brittany Ferries said.
Eurotunnel also said its bookings were “significantly” up on last Easter, with yesterday the busiest day of the year as schools broke up.
On the roads, the AA has predicted up to 15 million car trips a day will be made this weekend, with an increase on last year’s numbers expected if warmer weather returns
Meanwhile, travel plans for thousands of Britons have been plunged into turmoil by strikes by French air traffic controllers and Heathrow Airport security staff.
Members of the Unite union, including security officers at London Heathrow Terminal 5 and campus security guards who check cargo entering the airport, walked out yesterday in a dispute over pay.
Scores of flights have been cancelled as a result of the industrial action, which involves 1,400 staff members and will last until Easter Sunday on 9 April.
Heathrow has said that it is implementing “contingency plans” and drafting 1,000 extra staff into terminals to cope with the impact of the strikes.