Monday, May 27, 2024


‘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.”

Related Articles

El Salvador's Bitcoin Holdings Reach $350 Million
Teens Forming Friendships with AI Chatbots
WhatsApp Rolls Out Major Redesign
Neuralink's First Brain Implant Experiences Issue
Apple Unveils New iPad Pro with M4 Chip, Misleading AI Claims
OpenAI to Announce Google Search Competitor
Apple Apologizes for Controversial iPad Pro Ad Featuring Instrument Destruction
German politician of the AFD party, Marie-Thérèse Kaiser was just convicted & fined $6,000+
Changpeng Zhao Sentenced to Four Months in Jail
Biden Administration to Relax Marijuana Regulations
101-Year-Old Woman Mistaken for a Baby by American Airlines: Comical Mix-Up during Flight Check-in
King Charles and Camilla enjoying the Inuit voice singing performance in Canada.
New Study: Vaping May Lower Fertility in Women Trying to Get Pregnant
U.S. DOJ Seeks Three-Year Sentence for Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao
Headlines - Thursday, 23 April 2024
Illinois Woman Wins $45M Lawsuit Against Johnson & Johnson and Kenvue for Mesothelioma Linked to Baby Powder
Panama's lates news for Friday, April 19
Creative menu of a Pizza restaurant..
You can be a very successful player, but a player with character is another level!
Experience the Future of Dining: My Visit to an AI-Powered Burger Joint
Stabbing rampage terror attack in Sydney, at least four people killed, early reports that a baby was among those stabbed.
Iran fired more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel overnight. Israel Reports Light Damage After Iran Launches Large Strike.
I will never get enough of his videos and the pure joy and beauty of these women!!
Scientists at the University of Maryland have developed an "invisibility cloak", for AI using adversarial patterns on a sweater, making the wearer nearly undetectable to standard object detection methods.
Lamborghini Bids Farewell to Its Best-Selling Sports Car: The Huracán
Sam Bankman-Fried Appeals 25-Year Prison Sentence for $8bn FTX Fraud
OJ Simpson, ex-NFL star who was acquitted of murder, dies aged 76
British Backpacker Imprisoned in Notorious Bolivian Prison: Family Raises Funds for Legal Fight and Essentials
Argentina: Venezuela Cuts Power to Embassy after Opposition Meeting
El Salvador Offers 5,000 Passports to Skilled Foreign Workers: Tax-Free Relocation and Citizenship
Panama Papers Trial Begins: Founders of Mossack Fonseca Face Money-Laundering Charges
75 Becomes the New 65: Retiring in Your 60s Unrealistic as Life Expectancy Increases and Costs Rise
Total Solar Eclipse of 2021: 32 Million Witness the Mystical, $1.5bn Spectacle Sweep Across North America
New shopping experience…
New world, new reality, let’s get used to it
UK Company Passes Milestone in Developing Space-Based Solar Power, Aiming to Power a Million Homes and Provide Constant Energy
Mexico Breaks Diplomatic Ties with Ecuador after Police Storm Embassy, Arrest Former Vice President
Monty Python were so ahead of their time
If there's a will, there's a way!
Rules about how to dress are important, but not so much if you have a lot of money.
Body Armor Firm Showcases Stab-Proof Vest in Demo on CEO
Mexico Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Ecuador After Embassy Stormed in Quito
Here is a tattoo idea, for engineers
Zoraya Ter Beek, a 28-year-old woman from the Netherlands, will undergo euthanasia in May due to severe mental health challenges
Here's a video featuring Fidel Castro, where he discusses his stance against war and his commitment to preserving life, positions that have put him at odds with the USA:
Woman reaches behind and steals gun from a security guard and shoots three people while getting detained in Chile
Take a walk around the safe and thriving downtown San Salvador.
Joe Biden criticised by Trump campaign for declaring Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter Sunday
Macron says France will help Brazil develop nuclear-powered submarines
A video demonstrating women's self defense class in 1930