British Airways yesterday axed more than 650 July holiday flights to Europe, affecting up to 105,000 passengers.
The airline slashed its Gatwick and Heathrow schedules from 8,383 flights with more than 1.4 million seats to 7,731 services with fewer than 1.3 million seats.
Among the worst-hit destinations are Amsterdam, Athens, Faro in Portugal, plus Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Malaga in Spain. It comes after easyJet axed 10,000-plus flights from its summer schedules last week.
Most cancellations have been blamed on post-pandemic staff shortages and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has accused the industry of over-booking.
It couldn’t come at a worse time, with the peak summer season getting underway towards the end of July.
British Airways yesterday axed more than 650 July holiday flights to Europe, affecting up to 105,000 passengers (file image)
Hundreds of suitcases are seen abandoned at the baggage reclaim area of Terminal 2 in Heathrow Airport, west London this week
BA had already cut 16,000 flights, or 8,000 round trips, from its summer schedule earlier this year, suggesting it is continuing to struggle with staff shortages.
It comes after easyJet axed more than 10,000 flights from its schedules last week after having to make hundreds of cancellations in recent weeks.
Tui and Wizz Air have also cancelled dozens of flights.
Most cancellations have been due to a staff shortages crisis, particularly baggage handlers and cabin crew. Mr Shapps has accused the industry of over-booking planes.
Thousands of passengers were stranded abroad over half-term as a result, often waiting several days before being given another flight home.
With fewer seats available this summer, holidaymakers could see a rise in fares if they haven’t already booked as airlines try and re-coup losses as a result of less seats.
Passengers were forced to sleep on the floor as they waited to see if they would be able to travel at Bristol Airport on Monday morning. They queued from 4.30am.
Other customers were forced to bed down anywhere they could while waiting for more information on their flights in Bristol on Monday morning. One even thought ahead to pack an air bed so they would be more comfortable
Hundreds of passengers packed into Heathrow’s Terminal 2, pictured, Monday as they attempted to check in for their flights. Less flights have been cancelled so far at the UK’s biggest airport, but travellers still arrived early for flights
Mr Shapps told the Mail: ‘I’ll have a list of measures, which I’ll talk about more on Thursday when it’s transport orals [in the Commons], of things we’re trying to do. We have a bunch of different things we’ll be doing.
‘It’ll be more on what the sector needs to do and what the Government’s trying to do to both encourage them and help them in doing it.
‘It’s quite a big list of things, like how we solved the HGV crisis with 33 different measures, or how I resolved the P&O issue with nine different measures.’
He confirmed that allowing in more ‘cheap’ foreign workers by adding aviation jobs to the shortage occupation list was not one of the measures.
A business expert says that temporary staff working at Heathrow, pictured today, are warning their own family members not to travel until November at the earliest. British Airway staff are also threatening to strike, after unions rejected a 10 per cent pay offer in favour of walkouts as early as next month, potentially during the school holidays
Airlines have demanded he lobbies the Home Office for the change, which would make it easier to recruit staff from abroad.
BA was contacted for comment.
A BA spokesman said: ‘We took pre-emptive action earlier this year to reduce our summer schedule to provide customers with as much notice as possible about any changes to their travel plans.
‘As the entire aviation industry continues to face into the most challenging period in its history, regrettably it has become necessary to make some further reductions.
‘We’re in touch with customers to apologise and offer to rebook them or issue a full refund.’