Families are bracing for further travel chaos over Easter as easyJet said it plans to cancel more flights in the coming days.
Travelers have faced hour-long queues at airports this week after a series of flight cancellations, prompted by severe staff shortages.
EasyJet is expected to cancel another 70 flights to and from the UK today, the following days of chaotic travel across the country. More than 1,000 flights have been canceled in the past week, according to data firm Cirium, compared to 197 in the same week in 2019.
EasyJet has warned that the disruption is likely to spread over the Easter holidays.
It said it would ‘operate the vast majority of its 1,525 flights today with a small proportion canceled in advance to give customers the option to rebook on alternative flights’.
The company said precautionary cancellations will continue over the next few days at a “similar level” due to the high level of illness.
A spokesperson added: “We apologize for any inconvenience to affected customers.”
Passengers flying on other airlines are also being hit by last-minute cancellations, with hundreds more flights set to be cleared from schedules in the coming days. Airlines are blaming a rise in Covid cases for causing absences to double from their normal levels.
It comes after many airlines laid off thousands of workers at the start of the pandemic, with insiders saying long wait times for security checks for potential staff were now delaying the recruitment of new employees.
EasyJet said it had “sufficient operating crew and reserve crew to handle normal levels of illness”.
He added: “Unfortunately the high Covid infections across Europe have resulted in unusually high levels of crew illness, more than double the normal rate.”
British Airways cut 115 of its trips for Monday due to staff shortages and reduced its schedule for the coming weeks. At least 98 flights due to fly to or from Heathrow on Tuesday have been cancelled.
He said: “Aviation has been one of the hardest hit industries by the pandemic and airlines and airports are facing the same challenges in rebuilding their operations while managing the continued impact of Covid.
“So while the vast majority of our flights continue to operate as planned, as a precaution we have reduced our schedule slightly by the end of May as we resume.”
Industry experts said this process of getting airlines back to full capacity could take some time. John Strickland, director of transport consultancy JLS Consulting, said it would be “very difficult” for many airlines over the next few months.
Speaking to the BBC’s Wake Up To Money, Mr Strickland said: “I think the next few months or two will certainly be very difficult.
“We are aware that Manchester have said passengers should expect one to two hour queues over the next few weeks while they undergo further training.”
Consumer groups, meanwhile, have criticized the lack of guidance for travellers, who are always told to “get there early” for flights but unsure how long they might be in line.
Rory Boland, editor of travel agency Which?, said: “Airports know how many passengers there will be each day and how many staff there are, approximately. They should give passengers a specific time to to arrive.”
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This notice was published: 2022-04-05 14:27:22