New Dover border checks may cause 'alarming' 14-hour delays, MPs told

We also look at new France-US and France-Ireland flights as well as ongoing disruption at ports and on motorways

Clockwise from top-left: New Air France flights to US, new Ryanair flights to Ireland, long delays expected in Dover and the ongoing farmers’ motorway blockades
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Our recent travel updates have included French farmer roadblocks on roads and motorways, train tickets go sale for spring trips and the app to help disabled drivers find parking spaces. Here are five more updates for travel to and around France.

Ferry travel:

Entry/Exit System could cause delays of up to 14 hours in Dover

The roll-out of the Entry/Exit System (EES) in October could cause delays at the port of Dover of up to 14 hours according to a briefing to UK MPs.

The new system, which has been delayed several times, means that travellers will have to go through fingerprinting and facial recognition checks before crossings to the EU, potentially resulting in delays and a huge backlog of traffic.

The EES is currently scheduled to start on October 6. However, the roll-out has already been pushed back several times and still requires significant work before it is ready.

Its difficult roll-out has been compounded by fears of further delays processing the data of the millions of passengers when the system is finally introduced.

British travel association ABTA told Euronews in May 2023 that there was “widespread concern” that the EES would “add minutes” to the border checks for each passenger rather than streamlining the process.

However, UK MPs heard on January 24 that the EES could cause far more disruption.

In the briefing, Ashford Borough Council, reported that the queues could stretch for miles along the A20 and M20, under a “reasonable worst-case scenario” due to delays of up to 14 hours.

The European Scrutiny Committee noted in the briefing that “such queues will create welfare concerns for passengers”.

The chairman of the briefing committee, Sir Bill Cash, described the potential delays as “alarming”.

“Clearly, this policy could have a very serious impact, not only for tourists and travel operators but also for local businesses,” he said.

“I implore decision makers on both sides of the Channel to take note of this evidence.

“The scheme is due to be implemented in October this year. The clock is ticking and these issues must be urgently addressed.”

Read more: New European Entry/Exit System: 9 key things to know in advance

Ports warn of delays due to farmers’ protests

Ferry passengers have been warned to anticipate delays due to the farmers’ roadblocks, in particular on the A1 and A16 motorways.

No ferry companies have announced significant disruption to their sailings so far, with only delays of 30 minutes reported.

However, both Irish Ferries and DFDS have advised passengers to adapt their travel plans according to the disruption.

Air travel:

New flights from France to US

Air France will fly from Charles de Gaulle to Minneapolis (Minnesota) from May 13 and to Phoenix, Arizona from May 23 with three flights a week on both routes.

The new flights will be the first by a French airline to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

In total, Air France will have 17 routes between France and the US in summer 2024, and 24 to North America.

Read more: Boost for France-Canada flights with new all-year service confirmed

Ryanair announces six new routes from Charleroi Airport

The Irish low-cost airline will fly to six new destinations in summer 2024, including Cork from March 31.

Ryanair says it will use new B737 aircraft for the six routes, which include:

  • Amman (Jordan)
  • Cork (Ireland)
  • Dubrovnik (Croatia)
  • Göteborg (Sweden)
  • Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
  • Tirana (Albania)

Charleroi Airport in Belgium, which is only 40km away from the French border, also offers flights to Manchester airport and various regional French airports, including Toulouse.

Road travel:

Motorways heavily impacted by farmer protests

The continuing protests by French farmers are highly likely to make motorway travel difficult for several days.

The A7 and A9 in the south of France are shut for almost 400km due to the roadblocks, severely disrupting travel between Lyon and Spain.

Motorways in the Toulouse area are also blocked at Carbonne on the A64 (Haute-Garonne) and the A61 between Carcassonne-Ouest and Lézignan (Aude).

In the north of France, the A1 motorway is closed in both directions at Dourges, (Pas-de-Calais) and Chamant (Oise).

The roadblocks are likely to remain in place and even intensify until the government has responded to the farmers’ demands.

Read more: Where are French farmers' roadblocks now and what about the weekend?