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September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
Travel management companies have extended working hours over the weekend, in a bid to deal with a situation comparable to 9/11.
Nigel Turner, director of public sector and industry affairs UK, said: "It's affecting us hugely at the moment. There's been a huge amount of calls to our network .
"This compares to 9/11 interms of the effects. We haven't seen anything like this that since, and having airspace totally closed is a totally new phenomenon."
Turner said the main priority is looking after business travellers who are already on their trip and are trying to get home. If travellers haven't started their trip, most have cancelled it or put it off to another day, he said.
"It's a moveable feast, he said. "Noone quite knows how long the issues are going to last for... It hasn't stopped yet, that is the problem. Once the planes get airborne again it will probably have knock-on effects for 4 or 5 days."
Ian Windsor, managing director, UK, said: "It's all hands to the pump,"
CWT and HRG have both extended their office opening hours today and will open branches over the weekend, with staff working on overtime.
But, says Windsor, it's frustrating. "In situations such as an airline strike or bad weather, there's always options. The situation we're in at the moment is that all we can do is help the traveller to the best of our ability, but we can't book any flights to get them out... Until the airports are open again, it's difficult to give anyone any good information. "
Some travellers stranded on the continent have resorted to renting cars and driving to ferry terminals, or taking trains.
But, warned Windsor, "ground transporation networks are not built for the kind of capacity that's trying to get from A to B at the moment".
"We're doing whatever we can to the best of our ability, and getting alerts out to the clients every time anything changes. The fear is it will extend into Saturday, and maybe even into Sunday," said Windsor.