European travel chaos: airfares soar as heatwave sparks bushfires warning

7th. May 2018 This is Weymouth Beach Dorset England UK. It is early spring bank holiday on a record breaking day for temperatures. There are thousands of people on the crowded beach sunbathing having fun on the sand or in the sea.

Travel to and around Europe has become increasingly difficult with the heatwave sweeping through the continent and airport chaos making flights more difficult.

Heathrow Airport’s recent decision to impose a passenger cap has caused airfares to soar as Smartraveller has put out a warning about bushfires in Europe.

The passenger cap has pushed one-way Qantas flight from Sydney to London up to $2800 for an economy seat.

It comes after the airport told airlines to “stop selling summer tickets” until 11 September due to staff shortages.

Qantas said it was “disappointed” with the move and Emirates called the decision “airmageddon.”

Economy flights for Sydney to London on Qantas were typically selling for more than $2500 – with prices hitting nearly $2800 on 26 August via Singapore, according to Australian Aviation.

Flights from Melbourne via Sydney were going for up to $3000.

Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said, “Our assessment is that the maximum number of daily departing passengers that airlines, airline ground handlers and the airport can collectively serve over the summer is no more than 100,000″.

“The latest forecasts indicate that even despite the amnesty, daily departing seats over the summer will average 104,000 – giving a daily excess of 4,000 seats,” he said.

“On average, only about 1,500 of these 4,000 daily seats have currently been sold to passengers, and so we are asking our airline partners to stop selling summer tickets to limit the impact on passengers.

“By making this intervention now, our objective is to protect flights for the vast majority of passengers at Heathrow this summer and to give confidence that everyone who does travel through the airport will have a safe and reliable journey and arrive at their destination with their bags.

“We recognise that this will mean some summer journeys will either be moved to another day, another airport or be cancelled, and we apologise to those whose travel plans are affected.”

Travellers heading to Europe have also been warned about bushfires and their impacts on travel by Smartraveller in an update posted on Wednesday.

“Bushfires are currently affecting multiple destinations in Europe,” the update said.

“Bushfires can move rapidly and be unpredictable. They can also cause air pollution to reach levels that can pose a risk to your health.

“If you’re travelling or living somewhere that’s experiencing bushfires, be prepared and informed on how to stay safe.”

Temperatures have hit up to 47°C in Portugal and 45°C in Spain as firefighters in Portugal, Spain, France, Greece and Morocco as battling bushfires across tens of thousands of hectares.

Smartraveller gave the following advice to Aussies in Europe in the face of a bushfire:

  • Track the progress of the fire in the local media.
  • Follow the advice and instructions of local authorities at all times.
  • Identify your local emergency shelter.
  • Pack an evacuation kit. Include things like water, food, first aid, batteries and torches. Keep your passport and documentation on you.
  • If you have medication for breathing difficulties, keep it on you at all times.
  • Decide whether to leave the area or shelter in place. If in doubt, leave. Late evacuation from a bushfire zone can be more dangerous than sheltering in place.
  • Act quickly on evacuation notices. Bushfires can change direction or escalate without warning. If local authorities instruct you to leave the area, do so as soon as possible. Don’t delay.

The heatwave in Europe is expected to continue into next week.

Image: iStock/kodachrome25

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