UK holidaymakers planning a trip abroad in the next six months have been warned to expect a “summer of chaos” in airports.

Staff shortages are expected to cause mass disruption nationwide as the aviation industry continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

A source told The Times that the recruitment process is “cripplingly slow”.

The source said: “The process is cripplingly slow. Aviation was one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic, suffered from a lack of targeted support, and is now facing a summer disrupted by the government being slow in vetting staff.”

Delays in processing security checks for new airline crew are increasing the number of flights being cancelled, according to the boss of easyJet.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said the airline, which has cancelled hundreds of flights in recent days, is waiting for the Department for Transport (DfT) to give permission for around 100 new members of staff to start work.

Mr Lundgren explained this is primarily due to high levels of coronavirus-related staff absences but also blamed the time it is taking for the Government to vet new recruits.

He said: “There’s this delay of the clearance from the DfT (Department for Transport) for people to get their IDs.

“There’s a backlog there and we’re waiting currently for about 100 cabin crew to get their IDs.

“There’s a three-week delay on that. That has had an impact. If that would have been on time, we would have seen less cancellations.”

He added: “I understand the DfT and the ministers are doing what they can to accelerate and speed this up – which we find very constructive – but it definitely has had an impact.”

Bank Holidays to look forward to in 2022

Government respond to delay in staff vetting process

The government responded: “The one thing the British public don’t want us taking a risk on who has security clearance to work on airlines. They and the travel companies treated their staff so badly through the pandemic it’s no surprise they don’t want to come back.”

There has been a surge in demand for flights as many families have travelled abroad for the school Easter holidays, which are the first since the UK’s coronavirus restrictions for international travellers were dropped.

Airlines have been keen to attract as many bookings as possible after suffering huge losses due to the virus crisis but are struggling to cope with staff shortages.

The issue is partly caused by difficulties finding new recruits and getting their security checks processed after thousands of jobs were cut during the pandemic.

There are also high levels of coronavirus-related staff absences.

Travellers using Birmingham, Heathrow and Manchester airports have reported long queues.