Donald Macleod: Planes, trains and automobiles…we’re on the wrong track


MILLIONS of people across the UK will be rolling out the bunting this weekend to revel in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. For millions more, this special bank holiday and mid-term English break, honoring the monarch’s record 70-year reign, will be the perfect time for them to slip away for a well-deserved escape.

According to RAC Breakdown, around 19.5 million leisure journeys will be made, with an additional 5 million using their cars in the coming days. Huge numbers that will no doubt put further strain on our creaking road network and will see our 4th emergency services stretched to breaking point.

However, for those who had planned to jet off for some sun, sea and sangria or let the train take the train, chances are their vacation has already been well and truly ruined.

For the second time in as many months, due to the lack of foresight, greed and incompetence of our major airline and tour operators, thousands of flights have been cancelled, ruining the holiday plans of thousands of distraught holidaymakers .

The main culprits for this holiday hell are once again bailout champions British Airways, who, despite a £2billion funding boost through a state-guaranteed loan, cut 12,000 of their experienced staff” history” during the pandemic, including pilots, cabin and ground personnel.

EasyJet, which secured a cheap £600m loan from the Treasury, has cut its workforce by 30% to around 4,500 experienced workers.

And TUI, Britain’s biggest holiday company, which recently smugly announced that, as it was doing so well with summer bookings, there would be no more job cuts on top of the 8,000 that they had already deleted.

Short-sighted companies which ironically now find themselves plagued by chronic staff shortages and have therefore been forced to cancel thousands of flights, many at the last minute, while exhausted passengers meandered slowly through the terminals or abandoned on the tar.

Woefully incompetent and unprepared Manchester Airport has come to a halt again, after Tui shamefully cut 186 flights, ruining the holiday plans of more than 34,000 holidaymakers. A situation described by traumatized travelers as an absolute din.

BA has cut more than 16,000 flights from its summer schedule and EasyJet has now canceled nearly 200 flights. Cancellations which had a huge ripple effect across all major UK airports, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, and wiped out holiday plans for a staggering 2 million passengers.

A furious Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has firmly blamed these companies for the chaos, saying there’s ‘no excuse’ for the mess and warned them to stop ‘overselling travel’ they know that they cannot deliver. Well, if he is serious, he should immediately come up with a law to ban this filthy practice. No other company that I know of is allowed to sell more tickets than they have seats. So why should airlines?

Well, that’s not entirely true, our train operators have been doing it legally for years. Unfortunately, in Scotland, it is the discovery of a train that is the problem, not a seat. The recent reduction in services and the introduction of a wacky emergency timetable by our incompetent rail operator ScotRail, due to driver shortages, continues to be a source of national embarrassment and a very costly comedy of errors. for our declining tourism and hospitality sectors. A problem that is set to become more acute and acrimonious, now that militant drivers’ union ASLEF has turned down the very generous wage offer from ScotRail and the Scottish Government and is ransoming them for even more money.

Our airlines are leaving passengers dry, our trains have reached buffers and our cars are being driven off the roads by green fanatics and rising fuel prices.

It’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles without the giggles of Steve Martin and the late, great John Candy.

“You’re going the wrong way,” shouts a driver as he rushes on the wrong side of the freeway, “how the hell does he know which way we’re going,” they hilariously agree.

Unfortunately, it seems like we don’t know which direction we’re going either.

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