UK Government Vows to Help Mitigate Travel Chaos

UK Government Vows to Help Mitigate Travel Chaos

DALLAS – Grant Shapps, the British transport minister, said that the government would work closely with the airline industry to avoid a repeat of the mayhem at airports last week.

The UK’s commercial aviation sector has seen passengers experience significant delays and hundreds of flights canceled due to staffing shortages, among other causes.

Airports all around Europe have been struggling to cope with a post-pandemic surge in demand, but British airports have been particularly hard impacted in the last week. To commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne, schools were closed for half-term and the country enjoyed a long public holiday weekend.

Reuters reports that Shapps, who earlier this week suggested that airlines cease selling tickets for flights they can’t crew, told BBC TV that the sector needed to address the issue, adding that it was up to them to solve it and that the government did not own or operate airports or airlines. “That is something that the industry must accomplish.”

easyJet G-UZHD, Airbus A320Neo (Neo Livery). Phoro: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Not the Summer they Hoped for

After two years of COVID-19 travel limitations, airlines had hoped for a bumper summer for customers. However, companies have had difficulty recruiting staff following the pandemic’s chaos, and they say that it is taking longer to hire new employees and vet them for security clearance.

Shapps claimed that staff cuts made during the pandemic were excessive. “We’ll work with the industry very hard … to make sure we don’t see a repeat of those scenes,” he said.

Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair (FR), has another solution to the airport chaos: send in the soldiers. In the midst of widespread disruption, O’Leary urged that the army be deployed to UK airports to aid with long lines.

He cautioned that unless drastic measures are taken, the disturbance will persist throughout the summer. He believes that military professionals with experience providing security could be of use. It would relieve the pressure on airport security and result in a significantly better experience, according to the proposal.

However, Shapps claimed that a change in the law was making it easier to deal with the paperwork required for security clearance and that he didn’t expect the army to be called in to help speed up the process.

Wizz Air HA-LYZ Airbus A320. Photo: Julian Schöpfer/Airways

Travel Disruptions Continue

As the travel crisis continues into another weekend, a number of airlines have canceled flights from several airports, including London Gatwick (LGW).

LCC EasyJet (U2) has canceled 80 flights today and apologized to customers. “We are very sorry and fully understand the disruption this will have caused for our customers,” the airline promised, “We are doing all possible to fly them as soon as possible to their destination.”

British Airways (BA) and Wizz Air (W6) are also among the UK airlines that have canceled or rescheduled flights as they battle to meet customer demand and staffing shortages. A “significant number” of W6 flights to and from Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) have been canceled.

The cancellations were attributed to the airport’s failure to uphold the conditions of its commercial agreement with the airline, according to the Hungarian ultra-low-cost carrier. Hundreds of passengers were stranded at DSA due to unexpected cancellations.

According to reports, the disruptions of flights to/from DSA will continue on through June 10 and will affect 13 European destinations.

Featured image: London Heathrow Airport. Photo: Ferrovial

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