Port of Dover Easter chaos: Holidaymakers face up to 90-minute waits with larger queues expected

Holidaymakers face waits of up to 90 minutes with larger queues anticipated in the early afternoon.
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With the Easter holidays well and truly underway, traffic is slowly building up at Port of Dover on Good Friday (April 7), resulting in up to 90-minute waits with larger queues expected in the early afternoon.

According to P&O Ferries and operator DFDS, delays of around 60 minutes to the port’s entrance were reported, with drivers being advised to bring supplies in case they are left waiting for hours.

Doug Bannister, chief executive of the Port of Dover, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “First of all, the weather’s clear, the ferries are sailing well, and all that sort of stuff, this weekend was always scheduled to be about 30% lighter than last weekend, today being the busier day.

“What we did is we worked with our ferry operators to try and spread the demand across the three days rather than all on this day. I know that that’s challenging for the coach industry because they have itineraries that they want to maintain, but they’ve worked with the ferry operators to be able to do that, and that’s been successful.

“We’ve also installed a new facility to expand our processing at the borders for coaches, that’s operational, I just saw one goes through in just shy of 10 minutes. It’s going to be a busy day, we’re running probably about an hour to an hour and a half to get through border controls at the moment, and we will peak through probably early afternoon, and then it will start to slow down after that.”

He also advised visitors to pack drinks, food, and entertainment for children if they plan to arrive at the port after 10am. It follows the chaotic scenes at the port last weekend, which caused thousands of travellers to experience delays of up to 14 hours.

Delays at Dover have been blamed on French border officials carrying out extra checks and stamping UK passports following Brexit.  However, this is not the first time the port has been plagued with major queues.

Last year, a critical incident was also declared in Dover for the same reasons at Easter. This time, the port said despite considerable pre-planning, the additional coach bookings taken by ferry operators for the holiday has impacted operations.

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