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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
PA Queues at Gatwick Airport in London
flight chaos

UK airlines under fire for jubilee and summer getaway chaos

Airlines for Europe, which represents EU airlines, predicted the problem would continue ‘for a good chunk of the summer season’.

BRITAIN’S AIRPORTS ARE coming under fire for failing to prepare for this week’s jubilee bank holiday, as well as the upcoming summer season, as passengers face long delays and cancelled flights.

Sharon Graham, head of the country’s biggest trade union Unite, said on Wednesday: “The UK’s airports are in crisis because thousands of jobs have been slashed.”

The airline industry was one of the hardest-hit sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic, with flights grounded by lockdowns and travel restrictions.

As in Ireland, many employees were laid off by carriers and airports and staff shortages have now become apparent.

But deputy prime minister Dominic Raab accused airlines of a “lack of preparation” in the run-up to the holiday surge now restrictions have been lifted.

“Throughout the pandemic, the government provided £8 billion (€9.3 billion) of support,” he told Sky News.

“I don’t think the airline operators have done the recruitment that they should have done, and taken the advice that the transport secretary gave them.”

Thursday and Friday are public holidays in Britain as part of four days of celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee.

Airlines for Europe, which represents EU airlines, predicted the problem would continue “for a good chunk of the summer season”.


In response, the industry organisation representing UK-registered carriers, Airlines UK, said the sector was still emerging from “the worst crisis in the history of aviation”.

“Airlines were grounded for almost two years as a result of one of the most restrictive travel regimes in the world and with this in mind, the sector has had only a matter of weeks to recover and prepare for one of the busiest summers we’ve seen in many years.

“Despite this, and without the ability to know when restrictions would be completely removed or predict how much flying would be possible over the summer, the vast majority of the many tens of thousands of UK-departing flights a week will be operating as scheduled.”

The group called for a collaborative effort between airports, airlines and the government to ensure flights take off.


Susannah Streeter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said mass flight cancellations were expected to increase, further heaping pressure on airlines.

“Pent up demand is colliding with a severe labour crunch for the industry as companies struggle to recruit workers for key ground roles in particular, following mass pandemic lay-offs,” she said.

In Manchester, but also at London Heathrow and Gatwick, and elsewhere, there have been hundreds of cancellations this week, affecting companies such as tour operator Tui, British Airways and easyJet.
easter-getaway PA Manchester Airport PA
To make matters worse, low-cost airline easyJet was also hit by computer problems, which forced them to ground some 200 additional flights.

British Airways acknowledged it had been a “challenging period” but it was looking to recruit massively

Schedules have been cut “to provide certainty for our customers”, and passengers were being given “maximum flexibility” to rebook or receive a full refund, it told AFP in a statement.

Unite also warned that Ryanair flights out of London Stansted could face “serious disruption” in the coming months.

Struggling workers were calling for better pay after seeing a 10 percent cut in their wages in 2020, the union added.

© AFP 2022

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