Queue chaos at Manchester and Birmingham Airports AGAIN

Easter break… down! Queue chaos at Manchester and Birmingham Airports AGAIN as thousands head off for the holidays while BA phone lines are clogged ‘EIGHT weeks of cancellation calls’

  • Passengers ay they were met with ‘utterly shambolic’ scenes on arriving at Terminal 2 of Manchester Airport
  • Some complained of waiting 90 minutes for their luggage, while others had to queue outside Terminal 1
  • At Birmingham Airport, passengers said they had to wait an hour for security, despite paying for ‘fast track’ 
  • Are you stuck in the airport chaos?: Let me know about your experience: [email protected].co.uk

Easter weekend holiday makers hoping to miss the rush are today facing queueing chaos at Manchester and Birmingham airports, while BA phone lines are said to be clogged by eight-weeks worth of furious customers checking if their flights have been cancelled.

Passengers say they were met with ‘utterly shambolic’ scenes after arriving this morning at Terminal 2 of Manchester Airport, where customers say they had a 90 minute wait for their luggage.

Others said how queues for security stretched outside Terminal 1 and into the car park – mirroring scenes seen earlier this week.

At Birmingham Airport, passengers complained of waiting in hour long ‘fast track’ queues for security, despite customers paying at least £4-per-person for the priority service.

Are you stuck in the airport chaos?

Let me know about your experience: [email protected] 

Meanwhile, BA passengers are said to be facing clogged customer support lines. Frustrated passengers are reportedly struggling to get through to support services, after asking customers flying in the next eight weeks to check in with the airline about their upcoming flights.

The latest disruption comes following weeks of queueing chaos at airports up and down the UK. Airport and airline bosses have blamed an Easter rush, long-term staffing issues and a wave of Covid enforced sickness for the delays. 

It also comes ahead of a four-day Easter weekend – typically one of the busiest for travel each year and the first without any UK Covid travel restrictions in more than two years.

More disruption is expected this weekend, with millions of passengers set to pass through UK airports across the four-day weekend and industry experts warning of ‘catastrophic understaffing’.

And in a further blow, P&O Ferries last night announced it would not run any services between Dover and Calais this weekend, dashing the holiday hopes of thousands of Britons hoping to hop the Channel to France.

Passengers say they were met with ‘utterly shambolic’ scenes after arriving this morning at Terminal 2 of Manchester Airport, where customers say they had a 90 minute wait for their luggage

At Birmingham Airport, passengers complained of waiting in hour long ‘fast track’ queues for security, despite customers paying £4-per-person for the priority service

Passengers at Birmingham Airport complained of chaotic scenes at security today as thousands set out on their Easter weekend getaways

Passengers at Manchester Airport today faced long queues as they prepared to jet out on their Easter weekend getaway

Others said how queues for security stretched outside Terminal 1 and into the car park – mirroring scenes seen earlier this week

Today one arrival at Manchester Airport complained said they waited more than an hour and a half to get through baggage reclaim. In a post on Twitter, they said: ‘Utterly shambolic scenes in Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport.

‘When a cleaner is the only person to provide any information on why we have no bags after 90 minutes. Even then she doesn’t know when we will get them.’

Others complained of disruption at Terminal 1 and long queues at security. One Twitter user wrote: ‘Security queue snaking out into the car park.’

At Birmingham Airport, others complained of chaotic queuing at security. One, sharing a picture of a disorganised looking crowd of people waiting to go into the security area, wrote: ‘Queues at Birmingham Airport right now.’

Another, sharing a similar image, said: ‘Birmingham Airport this morning. One hour to get through security with fast track. Glad we did the twilight jeck with Jet2 the night before.

‘All of the staff did their utmost to keep everyone moving. A good experience considering the amount of people.’ 


Today one arrival at Manchester Airport complained said they waited more than an hour and a half to get through baggage reclaim. In a post on Twitter, they said: ‘Utterly shambolic scenes in Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport. At Birmingham Airport, others complained of chaotic queuing at security. One, sharing a picture of a disorganised looking crowd of people waiting to go into the security area, wrote: ‘Queues at Birmingham Airport right now.’

Another, sharing a similar image, said: ‘Birmingham Airport this morning. One hour to get through security with fast track. Glad we did the twilight jeck with Jet2 the night before. ‘All of the staff did their utmost to keep everyone moving. A good experience considering the amount of people.

It comes as consumer groups yesterday called on the Government to get tough on the aviation industry – including giving authorities the power to fine airlines. Holidaymakers are again facing ‘carnage’ at Manchester Airport this morning, with long check-in queues and delays at the security – while arrivals at Stansted are waiting in ‘snail’s pace’ queues at passport control. 

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said airlines, airports and the Government must make it a priority to learn from the disarray seen in recent days – ahead of the summer holiday rush later this year.

Mr Boland said: ‘Lessons should be learnt from the travel shambles this Easter. With many in the industry predicting a busy summer, the Government must work with airlines and airports to ensure they have the resources and capacity to handle increased passenger numbers, as there can be no excuse for a repeat of these failings.’

Mr Boland also criticised the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Transport, arguing the Government should have handed the aviation regulator fining powers to punish airlines who fail to give compensation to delayed customers.

He said: ‘Airlines wouldn’t be ignoring the law and their passengers’ rights if the aviation regulator had some teeth,’ he said. 

Holidaymakers again faced ‘carnage’ at Manchester Airport yesterday, with long check-in queues and delays at the security – while arrivals at Stansted are waiting in ‘snail’s pace’ queues at passport control

At Stansted Airport yesterday, arrival said they were met with long queues at passport control (pictured)

Passengers have told MailOnline that all the e-terminals were closed  and arrivals were being channeled into a dozen manned desks

Pictures show long lines of people waiting along walkways in Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1 in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Passengers have also complained of hour long queues at security (pictured)

Q&A: What is the reason for the airport chaos – and what should passengers be doing about it? 

What is the reason for the airport chaos?

Aviation chiefs have blamed a perfect storm of problems on the recent airport disruption. Passenger numbers plunged during the height of the Covid pandemic, and airport and airline operations were downsized as a result. And some firms say they have struggled to ramp up their operations quickly enough to meet demand – which has surged again over the Easter school holidays. With all UK Covid travel restrictions now lifted, airports have reported passenger numbers have risen up to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. And they are expected to continue rising this summer – which is the busiest time of year for the aviation sector. On top of longer-term staff shortages and an increase in passenger numbers, airports and aviation firms say they are currently facing a wave of Covid absences which has exacerbated the existing problems.

But surely companies were aware this rush was coming – why haven’t they just restaffed?

Airline and airport staff, like any job, require training. But unlike many professions, there are extra steps, including obtaining security clearances and background checks. This whole process can take up to six months in the most sensitive of roles – such as immigration officers with Border Force – and the Government, firms and unions say they have no intention of cutting corners on security. Some industry bosses have also suggested Brexit has played a role, because airlines no longer have access to a pool of EU workers to fill the gaps.

So when will it be fixed?

Unfortunately, some travel experts have warned the delays could last up to six months in some areas of the airports where staff require more extensive training and security and background checks. The issue has, for now, mainly been with outbound passengers queuing at check-in and airport security. But the Immigration Services Union – which represents Border Force officials – warns that there could be long delays at passport control areas from Bank Holiday Monday when many UK holidaymakers return. Speaking about the airport crisis Ms Moreton told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘Border Force isn’t immune to this. There have been staffing problems within Border Force for some time. Border Force is no longer attracting enough candidates to fill the vacancies that they’ve got. Combined with the fact it takes nearly a year to fully train a Border Force officer, going into not just this summer, this weekend, catastrophically understaffed, with people beginning to travel again… we do anticipate that the queues will move from security based queues going outward to Border Force queues coming back in.’

So what should passengers do?

Many airports, including Manchester, which has been one of the worst hit transport hubs, and Stansted, have urged passengers to arrive early to mitigate for longer queues and to avoid potentially missing their flights. Usually passengers are advised to arrive at least two-hours early for their flights, but many airports are urging arrivals to turn up three-hours in advance. Unfortunately, there is no set in stone policy for compensation or refunds on flights missed due to airport delays – unlike if a flight is cancelled or delayed – so passengers should arrive early to avoid any problems. If boarding is approaching and customers are stuck in a queue, it is advised to let a member of airport staff know and they may be able to fast-track you.

What if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

Along with longer queues, passengers have also been hit with a wave of flight cancellations and delays. Yesterday, easyJet axed 32 flights. However it said all the flights were cancelled in advance and passengers had been given prior warning.  Meanwhile, BA has reduced its schedule by 50 flights due to staff shortages. Under current rules, passengers delayed by more than three hours, or those whose flights are cancelled at short notice, are entitled to at least £220 in compensation. They also have the right to be re-routed or refunded, except in ‘extraordinary circumstances’.  

‘The Department for Transport can support consumers by equipping the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with direct fining powers. 

‘It should also drop its plans to change compensation rules for UK flights which are an important deterrent against passengers being treated unfairly.’ 

Under current rules, passengers delayed by more than three hours, or those whose flights are cancelled at short notice, are entitled to at least £220 in compensation.

They also have the right to be re-routed or refunded, except in ‘extraordinary circumstances’. However consumer groups have claimed that passengers are not always being offered or given what they are entitled to.

Meanwhile, the Department for Transport is also proposing changes to the legislation, which would see compensation capped at the ticket price on domestic routes.  

It comes as passengers fumed once again at airport disruption yesterday, with outgoing passengers facing long queues at check-in and security.

Yesterday, one passenger at Manchester Airport took to Twitter to complain about 60-minute long security queues at Manchester Airport.

They wrote: ‘Carnage at T1. We were lucky with a pram so bag drop was quick. But security took an hour.’  Another wrote: ‘Poor show at arrivals. Is this the best you can do?’.

Meanwhile, passengers arriving at Stansted Airport yesterday faced long queues at passport control.  One passenger, who was stuck in the queue, told MailOnline: ‘They have funneled everyone into one queue, whether families or e-passports.

‘It is 2am and my 6 and 9 year old are in tears. They have closed all the e- terminals, and have (it looks like) 15 manned desks open. The queue is going at a snail’s pace.’

It comes as holidaymakers were earlier this week warned to brace for major disruption at passport halls until summer due to the ‘catastrophic understaffing’ of Border Force. 

While pressure is currently on understaffed airports flying jet-setting Britons out of the country, union bosses have sounded the alarm about the possibility of chaos for UK arrivals on Easter Monday.

Holidaymakers are expected to return in their hundreds of thousands on Monday, following a four-day weekend and the end of the Easter school holidays.

Passenger numbers could hit as high as 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels over the weekend, experts predict, at a time when airports are still struggling to re-staff after downsizing their operations during the Covid pandemic.

Figures dropped by as much as 75 per cent between 2019 and 2020, from 297million to just 74million in 2020. However airports have struggled to recruit, train and obtain security clearance for staff in time for the Easter school holidays.

This, along with Covid absences, has been behind long queues at check-in and security at airports such as Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester since Friday.

Yesterday, Grant Shapps warned Britons face a four-day weekend of travel disruption from Friday.

The Transport Secretary has sounded the alarm for the upcoming Easter weekend, warning that roads, ports and airports were likely to be ‘extremely busy’.

He also raised ‘concern’ that transport hubs were not yet ‘up to strength’ despite all of the UK’s Covid travel restrictions being lifted.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: ‘I think certainly this weekend will be extremely busy on our roads, potentially at our ports, and of course, particularly at Dover, where P&O disgracefully sacked all of their staff and then attempted to run ships that wouldn’t have been safe with replacements below minimum wage.

‘We know none of their ships are running at the moment. So I do expect there to be disruption, with no thanks to P&O there.

‘It is also the case for the very first time that Brits are able to travel much more freely that other nations because we don’t have Covid restrictions now that other places have to travel.

Grant Shapps warns of weekend of travel disruption 

Grant Shapps says Britons face a weekend of travel disruption, warning that roads, ports and airports are likely to be ‘extremely busy’.

He also raised ‘concern’ that transport hubs were not yet ‘up to strength’ despite all of the UK’s Covid travel restrictions being lifted.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: ‘I think certainly this weekend will be extremely busy on our roads, potentially at our ports, and of course, particularly at Dover, where P&O disgracefully sacked all of their staff and then attempted to run ships that wouldn’t have been safe with replacements below minimum wage.

‘We know none of their ships are running at the moment. So I do expect there to be disruption, with no thanks to P&O there.

‘It is also the case for the very first time that Brits are able to travel much more freely that other nations because we don’t have Covid restrictions now that other places have to travel.

‘People want to travel. I’m very concerned the operators, the airlines, the airports, the ports, do ensure that they get back to strength and quickly.

‘They have lost a lot of people during the pandemic, we have been warning them for a long time that they would need to gear up again.

‘I’m very keen to ensure that they manage, what always is at Easter weekend, a very busy weekend on our transport network.’

‘People want to travel. I’m very concerned the operators, the airlines, the airports, the ports, do ensure that they get back to strength and quickly.

‘They have lost a lot of people during the pandemic, we have been warning them for a long time that they would need to gear up again.

‘I’m very keen to ensure that they manage, what always is at Easter weekend, a very busy weekend on our transport network.’

Meanwhile, officials now have warned that an influx of passengers arriving back in the UK, combined with staffing issues within Border Force, could result in huge queues and long waits at airport immigration halls. 

Lucy Moreton, General Secretary of the Immigration Services Union (ISU), also said  Border Force employees were being moved from transport hub in the south to Dover to help process migrants crossing the Channel in small boats. 

Those staff, she said, are in turn being replaced by immigration officials from airports in Scotland and Northern Ireland. However she warned this was leading to spiralling costs for the taxpayer.

Speaking about the airport crisis Ms Moreton told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme yesterday: ‘Border Force isn’t immune to this. There have been staffing problems within Border Force for some time. 

‘And for the first time in living memory, Border Force is no longer attracting enough candidates to fill the vacancies that they’ve got.

‘Combined with the fact it takes nearly a year to fully train a Border Force officer, going into not just this summer, this weekend, catastrophically understaffed, with people beginning to travel again, and of course those that went out earlier this week will be coming back by the middle of next week, the school holidays having finished.

‘We do anticipate that the queues will move from security based queues going outward to Border Force queues coming back in.’

Speaking about Border Force having to move staff around to manage demand, she said: ‘To a certain extent it also depends on things we can’t control – for example small boat migration. We can’t roster people for that. 


Yesterday, one passenger at Manchester Airport took to Twitter to complain about 60-minute long security queues at Manchester Airport. They wrote: ‘Carnage at T1. We were lucky with a pram so bag drop was quick. But security took an hour.’ Another wrote: ‘Poor show at arrivals. Is this the best you can do?’.

 


At Birmingham Airport yesterday, passengers fumed at suffering ‘the sh**est experience in the world’ while waiting at the Midlands transport hub

P&O Ferries suspends ALL passenger services across Channel over Easter 

P&O Ferries has suspended all of its passenger services across the Channel over Easter – one of the busiest travel weekends of the year – ruining the holiday plans of thousands of Britons.

The under-fire ferry firm last night revealed it would not run any passenger services between Dover and Calais this weekend.

The company, which suspended sailings afters its controversial decision to sack 800 of its crew without warning last month, had hoped to restart ahead of Good Friday.

But in a move that will dash the four-day weekend getaway hopes of thousands, P&O Ferries last night confirmed the suspension of its services would continue over Easter.

It comes after two of the firm’s vessels were detained by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) over safety fears.

Yesterday the MCA detained The Spirit of Britain in the Port of Dover after finding ‘deficiencies’ during a safety inspection. The Pride of Kent was also detained earlier this month.

P&O Ferries had hoped The Pride of Kent would be released by the MCA following a fresh inspection yesterday.

But last night the MCA revealed it had found ‘additional deficiencies’ and said the vessel would remain detained. 

In a Tweet, the ferry firm said last night: ‘Dover-Calais: April 15 to April 18. Our Passenger services are suspended this weekend. We sincerely apologise.

‘For travel April 15-18 please re-book directly with another operator before arriving. DFDS are not able to transfer P&O customers on their ships’.

Rival ferry firm DFDS, which plans to run more than 100 sailings each way per day between its two routes of Dover and Calais and Dover and Dunkirk, said it hoped to run extra crossings this weekend.

But the company urged passengers not to arrive at the Port of Dover without a booking, saying it already had high demand.

In a Tweet, the firm said: ‘DFDS has no availability for P&O customers between April 15, 00.01 and April 18, 23.59. 

‘Please do not proceed to port without a confirmed reservation, contact P&O Ferries for alternative travel arrangements.’   

‘That actually draws a lot of resources and staff in the south east so we can process people, particularly when we have a high number of arrivals.

‘So we now have the situation where staff from ports and airports and in the south east are now going to Dover to support staff there, but then staff from Scotland and Northern Ireland are being brought down to cover airports like Heathrow.’ 

However she said Home Office should not cut corners on training and security clearance in a bid to cut tackle the staffing crisis. ‘This is a law enforcement role – you don’t expect your police officer to be incompletely trained, or not security cleared. And certainly we wouldn’t want anything else for Border Force,’ she added. 

It comes as furious holidaymakers claimed Manchester Airport had descended into ‘pure chaos’ on Tuesday, with queues so long they are even stretching outside the terminal building.

Astonishing pictures appear to show airline passengers queueing in the underfloor car park of the airport outside Terminal 1 yesterday.

Inside the terminal, pictures showed huge queues at check-in and at baggage enquiries – where passengers usually go to report damaged or missing luggage. 

Some passengers said they have had to temporarily abandon their luggage at the airport due to delays. Pictured showed rows of unattended luggage by the conveyor belt.

‘Shambolic’ disruption is also said to have continued at Birmingham Airport yesterday morning. Passengers have reported 90 minute queues for security. 

Others say they saw passengers plucked out of the queues to be fast-tracked in order to stop them from missing their flights. 

Manchester Airport said queue times for security reached a maximum of 75 minutes on Tuesday.

A spokesperson said the end of the queue had stretched out of the building for a ‘brief period’, but that queues had since decreased.

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Birmingham Airport told MailOnline: ‘On Monday another 15,000 customers flew out of Birmingham Airport. Once they cleared boarding card checks, 79% of those customers were through security in under 20 minutes.

‘If anyone is deep in the queue and their departure time is looming, we call them forward, so they don’t miss their flight.’

It comes as Britons have been told to brace for a summer of airport chaos as airlines struggle with low staff numbers – while emergency plans are drawn up to avoid massive passport queues for the Easter getaway.

Ministers have been accused of overseeing ‘cripplingly slow’ security checks for new airline staff, with British Airways having to cancel 64 domestic and European flights from Heathrow on Monday alone.

The increase in demand has come as airlines have been hit with staffing shortages, though, with operators citing difficulties in finding recruits, security red tape and Covid absences, The Times reports.

Astonishing pictures show airline passengers queueing in the underfloor car park of the airport outside Terminal 1 on Tuesday morning

Inside the terminal on Tuesday, pictures showed huge queues at check-in and at baggage enquiries – where passengers usually go to report damaged or missing luggage

Some passengers say they have had to temporarily abandon their luggage at the airport due to delays, with pictures showing rows of unattended luggage by the conveyor belt

‘Shambolic’ disruption is also said to have continued at Birmingham Airport yesterday. Passengers reported 90 minute queues for security on Tuesday

Brits are warned to now brace for a SUMMER of airport chaos as airlines struggle with low staff numbers

Britons have been told to brace for a summer of airport chaos as airlines struggle with low staff numbers – while emergency plans are drawn up to avoid massive passport queues for the Easter getaway.  

Ministers have been accused of overseeing ‘cripplingly slow’ security checks for new airline staff, with British Airways having to cancel 64 domestic and European flights from Heathrow on Monday alone.

The increase in demand has come as airlines have been hit with staffing shortages, though, with operators citing difficulties in finding recruits, security red tape and Covid absences, The Times reports.   

It comes as border guards are also now gearing up for ‘significant problems’ as millions of holidaymakers head abroad, with fears passport queues could last hours as emergency plans are drawn up for the Easter weekend.  

Good Friday is set to be the busiest day of Easter with 2,430 flights leaving the UK. Flight data specialists Cirium show 9,212 will depart over the bank holiday weekend, 78 per cent of the total in pre-pandemic 2019.

But airlines are concerned that failure to address the current issues will lead to travel chaos extending into the summer, with some families having already endured three-hour queues to get through security at some UK airports.

One industry figure told The Times: ‘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.’

Officials have accused ministers of failing to provide adequate resources to meet the increased demand as tens of thousands of potential employees await security clearance – including 12,000 at Heathrow alone.     

Vetting procedures normally take between 14 and 15 weeks, but it is understood to now be taking up to six months to screen new staff.

Lucy Moreton of the Immigration Service Union said backroom staff were being offered bonuses to man desks at Heathrow.

The volunteers, who usually carry out checks on prohibited items, will be pushed to the front lines at airports and ports to prevent chaos. Miss Moreton said border forces were already stretched due to virus absences and the Channel migrant crisis.

‘There’s the potential for significant problems at the tail-end of this week and at the weekend and planning has already started,’ she added. 

‘We’re bringing staff down from Scotland and Northern Ireland to Heathrow.

‘They get expenses and overtime and they’re being offered a cash bonus for each shift they cover at Heathrow. 

‘Some passengers will sail through, but others could be looking at several hours in a queue. It won’t be chaos universally but there will be patches.’

Meanwhile, border guards are also now gearing up for ‘significant problems’ as millions of holidaymakers head abroad, with fears passport queues could last hours as emergency plans are drawn up for the Easter weekend.

Good Friday is set to be the busiest day of Easter with 2,430 flights leaving the UK. Flight data specialists Cirium show 9,212 will depart over the bank holiday weekend, 78 per cent of the total in pre-pandemic 2019.

But airlines are concerned that failure to address the current issues will lead to travel chaos extending into the summer, with some families having already endured three-hour queues to get through security at some UK airports.

One industry figure told The Times: ‘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.’

Meanwhile, Kully Sandhu, the managing director of Aviation Recruitment Network Limited, whose firm recruits for major firms including Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme he currently had more than 300 live vacancies on his site. 

Asked how long it would take for airports to get the staff they need, he replied: ‘My personal opinion, it is going to take at least the next 12 months for the industry vacancy-wise to settle down.;

Mr Sandhu said Brexit ‘had not helped’ the situation, as recruiters were no longer able to fill vacancies with staff from the EU.

However he said airports should not cut back on their current checks on staff in order to fast-track new employees.

Asked if the security checks on new staff should be reduced or dropped, he said: ‘No, because they work. The industry works to a set of standards, that comes from the Department of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority.

‘Each airport has the option to scale their checks slightly higher if they want to, each company that operates within the airport can adapt the checks. 

‘But the fundamental basics are the same, five years of background checks to cover an individual’s background history, whether they’ve been employed, in education, any bouts of any kind of benefits, any bouts of period abroad. All these need to be identified.’

Officials have accused ministers of failing to provide adequate resources to meet the increased demand as tens of thousands of potential employees await security clearance – including 12,000 at Heathrow alone.

Vetting procedures normally take between 14 and 15 weeks, but it is understood to now be taking up to six months to screen new staff. 

Some travel firms cut huge numbers of workers in the pandemic and are racing to find staff to cope with soaring demand. But the drive is being hampered by delays in carrying out security and counter-terror checks.  

Martin Chalk, chief of the pilots’ union Balpa, said: ‘There will be problems into the summer. To be working in an airport you need an airside pass, which needs a criminal records and counter-terror check, which are taking months. The challenge won’t be answered quickly.’ 

A senior aviation source said: ‘It’s taking much longer to get the background checks done – two to three times as long – and it was already taking as long as 14 to 15 weeks.’ 

Travel operators are now at their busiest since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 4.2million passengers passed through Heathrow last month, only 35 per cent down on the 6.5million of March 2019. 

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