TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Saturday, Apr 13, 2024

0:00
0:00

‘I don’t want to miss another summer’: UK travellers braced for holiday chaos

Covid, war in Ukraine, strikes and security checks compound travellers’ woes, despite government ordering airlines to be ‘realistic’ about flights
It’s a question Maria Bataller has been asking herself for weeks: will she and her family be able to get on the flights she’s booked this summer?

She is due to fly Ryanair with her husband and young children to Spain on 27 July, but the airline’s cabin crew in Spain are going on strike this month.

“The worst thing would be to turn up at the airport at 4am with two small children and find the flight is cancelled,” said Bataller, whose company, Capikooa, makes children’s toys. “I’m really anxious because my parents are in Spain and they are getting old. I want my children to make memories – I don’t want to miss another summer.”

Like many people hoping to get away this summer, Bataller is haunted by the flight cancellations that caused so much disruption to travellers during the recent half-term break.

The uncertainty around the summer getaway will be like no other year. The pandemic created huge pent-up demand for overseas holidays, but a host of obstacles mean travellers are facing an anxious time.

Strikes, a new Covid wave and the war in Ukraine are all taking their toll. Meanwhile staff shortages and security checks mean airlines, airports and the myriad companies involved in each passenger’s journey are already stretched.

So although the government took the drastic step of ordering airlines to be “realistic” about how many flights they could deliver, leading to more than 41,000 planned cancellations so far this summer, no one in the airline industry can guarantee that passengers will not face more disruption when the great summer getaway starts in earnest later this month.

Anna Bowles, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)’s head of consumer policy and enforcement, said: “We have asked airlines to review their schedules and ensure that they are deliverable. Airlines have been responding to this by making large-scale cancellations of flights for the summer period that they do not reasonably expect to deliver.

“Cancellations made well in advance are far better for the consumer than cancellations made at short notice.”

The first signs that the anticipated return to normality this year would not be smooth came with long queues in departure lounges at Easter, then chaotic scenes last month when at least 600 flights were cancelled at the last minute.

When governments began dropping travel restrictions earlier this year, airlines and tour operators saw huge demand, and adopted schedules that were above 2019 levels of travel. More than 30,000 staff had been laid off by UK airlines when government pandemic support ended, and they – along with airport security, baggage handlers and refuellers – began an urgent recruitment campaign.

But the wider shortage of workers left huge gaps, leading to Jet2’s executive chairman Philip Meeson’s broadside at airports last week, accusing them of being “woefully ill prepared” and describing ground handler firms as having “atrocious customer service, long queues for security search, lack of staff and congestion in baggage handling”.

Others in the industry have pointed out that airlines have outsourced airside services like ground handling and refuelling and then squeezed their suppliers, leaving companies with thin profit margins and little room to increase pay. New airport staff need security clearance, which had been taking months. And a new ground handler might need 45 minutes to remove a stray bag from a plane – a significant security threat – compared to 15 minutes for an experienced worker.

After the travel chaos subsided, the CAA and government wrote to airlines urging them to be more realistic in their plans, but carriers were reluctant as this would mean losing airport landing slots – a valuable commodity. So on 21 June the government announced a slot “amnesty”, allowing airlines to retain their landing slots for next year. EasyJet has since dropped an estimated 11,000 flights, while BA has cut about 13% of its summer schedule – some 30,000 flights before October.

The slot amnesty ended on Friday, so if other airlines need to make planned cancellations, they are expected to announce them within the next few days.

That should make remaining flights more secure, but there are other issues that may mean more last-minute cancellations than usual.

Heathrow still faces disruption because refuellers plan a 72-hour strike, but other industrial disputes seem to have been resolved after BA check-in staff received an improved pay offer.

The war in Ukraine means the skies are congested and planes need to fly longer, less direct routes. And Covid has not disappeared. The latest wave of infections may hit flight crews and ground staff in ways that are hard to predict. The consolation is that any disruption should be localised and short lived.

Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee urged people not to arrive at airports too early, since some congestion has been caused by passengers arriving long before departure. “Airports have been preparing for the summer peak since late last year, with the ongoing recruitment campaigns for security staff going well,” she said. “More staff have been and are being deployed as they finish their training and security vetting.”

Ground services company Swissport said issues like security queues and last-minute schedule changes had knock-on effects that lead to delays elsewhere. “We are very sorry for our part in the disruption people are experiencing,” a spokesperson said. “In the UK we have recruited over 3,500 people since the start of the year and will continue to work with our partners to find solutions for this industry-wide issue.”
Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
0:00
0:00
Close
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
×