DALLAS – In an effort to prevent last-minute cancellations, British Airways (BA) is to cancel 10,300 flights between August and October 2022.
As part of the government’s airport slot amnesty, a policy designed to assist airlines in trimming their schedules to levels that are easier to manage, the airline eliminated the flights. BA flights from London Heathrow (LHR), Gatwick (LGW), and London City (LCY) airports are affected by the cancellations.
The sector has seen serious personnel shortages since the pandemic at a time when demand for air travel is rapidly rising. To add fuel to the fire at BA, the airline’s check-in and ground crew at LHR voted to strike last month, pending further negotiations with BA management over a disputed pay cut of 10%.
The dispute first arose when BA’s management’s salary was reinstated to its pre-pandemic levels, receiving the 10% they had lost as a cost-saving measure during the global health crisis. The lower levels of BA, the ground and check-in staff, saw this as unjustifiable considering they aren’t receiving a reinstated salary and are still on only 90% of pre-pandemic pay.
The staffing shortages have rendered airlines unable to keep to their own schedules, causing numerous last-minute cancellations. One of the worst offenders, BA, once canceled almost 100 flights every day. In light of the most recent disclosure, BA will have cut about 30,000 flights from its itinerary between April and October of this year.
The government has implemented measures to assist airlines and prevent future chaos since the aviation industry has failed to appropriately address delays. One such action is the “slot amnesty” at the airport, which is the cause of British Airways’ sudden cancellation of so many flights.
The times that an airplane can take off and land on the runway are known as airport slots. Airlines must utilize their slots a predetermined amount of times per season in order to maintain their possession of them. Some people may be reminded of the widespread “ghost flights” incident, which was related to slots.
Airlines have a limited time period in which they can return summer seats that they are unsure they will be able to fill, according to the government. Despite not being able to use their slots, airlines who participate in this program won’t lose their spaces. The plan was employed by British Airways to combine its timetable, which led to numerous cancellations.
This Friday is the deadline for the Department of Transportation’s slot amnesty, so if more airlines take advantage of the program, we can see additional large-scale flight cancellations. Although the widespread cancellations may cause travelers short-term hardship since they must rebook flights, they should pay off this summer by lowering last-minute cancellations.
According to Travel Radar, BA said the flexibility afforded it by the amnesty meant it could “further reduce our schedule and consolidate some of our quieter services so that we can protect as many of our holiday flights as possible.”
The airline added, “while most of our flights are unaffected and the majority of customers will get away as planned, we don’t underestimate the impact this will have and we’re doing everything we can to get their travel plans back on track.”
Featured image: British Airways G-YMML Boeing 777-200(ER) (GREAT Festival of Creativity Livery). Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways