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The BBC's George Eykyn
"The misery could be inflicted all over again before the month is out"
 real 56k

Sunday, 1 July, 2001, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Travellers still face airport misery
Two men asleep at Palma airport, Majorca
Thousands have been sleeping at Palma airport
Holidaymakers heading for Spain's Balearic islands are still facing massive delays as strikes continue for a third day.

Thousand of tourists have been stranded at UK airports over the weekend because of knock-on effects from the coach drivers' strike on Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca.

Tour operators' advice for holidaymakers
Check flight times with airlines or tour operators
Check-in on time anyway
Pack travel essentials in hand luggage
Be prepared for delays
Some passengers had been waiting for 24 hours by Sunday afternoon. Most delays were averaging three to four hours.

However, it was expected the situation would improve on Sunday evening as the weekend getaway rush eases off.

The UK airports worst-hit by the delays have been Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow - where one flight was delayed by more than 36 hours.

Cardiff, Leeds and Bradford, Bristol and East Midlands airports have also had delays of several hours.

Thousands of people have also been camping out at Palma airport in Majorca waiting for flights home.

And some passengers have had their flights cancelled altogether.

Sarah Carder, her husband Mike and their two daughters, had to return to their Sheffield home on Saturday.

Their Airtours flight from East Midlands airport to Menorca had been cancelled - nearly 24 hours after it was due to depart.

Some airport phone numbers
Manchester: 0161 489 8000
Gatwick: 0870 0002468
Cardiff: 01446 711111
Glasgow: 0141 849 0904
East Midlands: 0845 606 6669
Bristol: 0870 121 2747
Belfast: 028 9442 2888
"Airtours didn't give us enough information or keep us up-to-date with what was happening," Mrs Carder told BBC News Online.

"They said we would definitely have a flight. They were giving people false hope."

A spokesperson for Airtours said the company sympathised with passengers but the problems were outside their control.

The Carders' complaints were echoed by tourists trapped at Palma airport in Majorca, where some tempers have been fraying.

Some complained operators were whisking them to the airport at the end of their holiday - even though they knew their flights would be delayed.

Once there, they said, overwhelmed tour representatives were not giving them enough information, and conditions were "disgusting".

On Saturday night 8,000 people had to bed down at the airport.

Tourists wait at airport
The wait goes on
Catherine Dodd, 49, of Staines, Surrey, said it was a "nightmare".

"There were people everywhere, lying on lilos which were being given out," she said.

"It was very hot, and I found out later that some people had had to walk to the airport, carrying luggage, and were waiting for hours.

"I can't imagine what those poor people were going through - there were children with bloodshot eyes from being so tired, and from crying."

Tourists arriving on the islands face waiting for three hours or more for a taxi before being able to reach their villas and apartments.

Again, the situation is worst in Majorca - where feelings have also been running high among the strikers.

Gatwick Airport
One passenger finds a way to pass the time
According to Spanish radio, the few municipal buses running from Palma airport to the town centre were cancelled after strikers threw stones at them.

And vandals have slashed the tyres of 90 hire cars rented by tour operators there.

The coach drivers who ferry tourists between the airports and their holiday accommodation are striking over pay.

The 72-hour strike is due to end at midnight on Sunday - but the backlog of delays is likely to last for some time after that.

And the drivers have threatened to go on indefinite strike in two weeks' time, if a deal is not reached with the regional government.

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Holidaymakers flying to and from the Spanish islands of Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza face delays of up to 30 hours. Send us your experiences.Holiday hell
Have you been caught up in the flight chaos?
See also:

30 Jun 01 | UK
Flight chaos hits thousands
01 Jul 01 | Scotland
Flight chaos enters third day
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