The aviation industry has been thrown into chaos in recent months during the first test of its post-pandemic operations. Travelers were left with last-minute messages and announcements of canceled flights, lost luggage and painful long queues that worsened during school holidays.
The UK’s second-busiest airport, London Gatwick, has announced it will be forced to cancel flights and limit capacity due to the industry’s staff shortage problem.
Gatwick announced on Friday that flights would be reduced from 900 a day to 825 a day in July and 850 in August.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “Airlines will have to reduce their schedules somewhat.”
He added that this would mean that “everyone gets more certainty. They can at least have confidence in July and August that the flights will work.”
Now airlines such as British Airways, easyJet and TUI are using an employment loophole that will allow them to hire EU crew for their flights without staff needing to hold UK work visas.
Airlines will fly EU-registered planes under wet-lease agreements, meaning they can dodge post-Brexit immigration regulations to employ EU staff without visas work for Great Britain, we learned.
One Twitter user commented on the EU loophole saying, “So is it fair? Brits can’t have freedom in the EU since BREXIT, but is it good to open up and let EU citizens in whenever they want?
“It’s totally unfair, the Tories sewed up the Brits, the EU won Brexit, but the Brits left with nothing.”
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Earlier this month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps dismissed the wet lease process, saying it was doubtful the Home Office would change its rules for the industry as others grapple with the same problems.
According to industry sources, British Airways used four Finnair and four Iberia planes instead of using one of the UK-registered locations that are in storage.
A British Airways spokesman said: “To provide our customers with access to as many destinations as possible, our partner airlines are operating select European flights for us as we continue to rebuild our operation.”
Meanwhile, TUI and EasyJet have leased eight planes from Latvia’s SmartLynx Airlines and both airlines declined to comment on the matter.
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The airlines acknowledged the use of wet charter and said it was standard industry practice and did not breach UK immigration law.
Industry bosses have asked the government to consider using temporary visas typically given to seasonal workers such as fruit pickers.
In a call with the Department for Transport on Friday, airlines warned that unless immigration laws are changed to address their staffing issues, more EU-registered planes will be used.
More than 2.5million passengers are thought to fly to and from the UK with the three airlines in EU-registered planes and with overseas staff.
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This notice was published: 2022-06-20 00:12:43