Passengers queue for ferries at the Port of Dover as families embarking on summer getaways at the start of school holidays have been warned by ferry operators to expect delays of several hours at the border, in Folkestone, Kent, England, Thursday July 21, 2022. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)
By The Associated Press
Britons heading off on holiday by ferry faced hours-long waits at the port of Dover on Friday, with authorities blaming French officials for the chaos.
Dover authorities said a lack of French border officials was leading to waits of up to five hours for border checks at the English Channel port, with queues of tourist and freight traffic snarling roads for miles (kilometers) around.
Port authorities said in a statement that the number of French border police “has been insufficient and has fallen far short of what is required to ensure a smooth first weekend of the peak summer getaway period.”
Since Britain left the European Union in 2020, U.K. travelers face passport checks when traveling to the continent. At Dover they are performed on the English side of the channel by French staff.
Ferry operator P&O said “there are currently queues in excess of four hours to reach the border controls” at Dover. It urged travelers to “arrive prepared for a prolonged wait. Carry snacks and additional water with you.”
Millions of people in Britain trying to start vacations this weekend — the start of the summer holidays for most schools — face the threat of disruption by road, sea, rail and air.
Protesters against high fuel prices said they planned rolling roadblocks Friday on routes to southwest England, a popular holiday destination.
The problems follow days of travel disruption on Britain’s railways after a heat wave brought record-smashing 40 degree Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures to the U.K., buckling rails and starting lineside fires.
Rail workers also staged nationwide strikes last month in a dispute over pay and conditions, and plan more walkouts next week.
Air travel has also been hit, in Britain and around the world, as airlines and airports struggle to cope with the return of mass travel following two years of pandemic disruption.