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Port Dover, UK’s main gateway to Europe declares “Critical incident”

The Port of Dover, Britain’s main gateway to Europe, on Friday declared a “critical incident” over long delays, blaming French authorities for causing a bottleneck as holidaymakers look to start their summer breaks.

Ferry operators warned passengers travelling to Calais that they are faced with delays of up to four hours at the start of what is typically one of the busiest periods of travel as schools break up for their summer holiday.

Port of Dover CEO Doug Bannister has declared the situation a “critical incident”, but did not specify what that declaration meant in practical terms.

Dover and Calais have what is known as juxtaposed border controls, where French authorities check passports on British soil before departure, and vice versa in France.

A statement posted on the Port of Dover website expressed the frustration of what was described as woefully inadequate resource at the French border to meet predicted demand, and advised passengers to arrive prepared for a prolonged wait by carrying snacks and additional water.

Sea ports are not the only overseas transportation seeing a massive halt in operations. The significant layoffs from the COVID-19 lockdowns are now resulting in the lack of personnels in most overseas transportation sectors in Europe.

At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, airports and airlines made roughly 191,000 European aviation workers redundant, adding to the unexpected amount of resurgence in overseas travels almost immediately after the lifting of restrictions, most transportation ports have been stretched paper thin.

Transportation and aviation experts suggest holiday travellers arrive an hour earlier than usual to their transportation ports, leaving ample time to deal with potential complications. Exercise patience when interacting with personnels, keeping in mind their already high volume of work, and be prepared to be flexible with travel plans.

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