Holidaymakers face more travel disruption as airlines reportedly prepare to announce another wave of cancellations next week.
Britain’s busiest airport, Heathrow, is to let officials know which flights are no longer operating by Friday – just as some schools start to separate for the summer holidays, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The upheaval comes in response to a amnesty announced last month which will allow airlines to cancel flights while retaining take-off and landing slots next year.
Airlines buy slots to exploit their schedules, but can lose them to competitors if they fail to meet their obligations to the airport and passengers by failing to fly.
Travelers have already been hit by months of cancellations, delays and missing luggage – with more disruption expected this weekend as Ryanair and EasyJet crews go on strike in Spain.
A passenger passing through Heathrow described the baggage claim scene as looking like “a disaster movie”.
Adam Kent had arrived at Terminal 3 in Orlando, Florida, and said the sight “made a horrible first impression of chaos” for international visitors.
The 59-year-old said: “(There was) lost luggage everywhere, piled up between the luggage belts, everyone stepping over and no one doing anything about it.
“To be brutally honest, this looks like a serious health and safety issue.
‘No one is visible on the ground to explain the carnage or sort out the mess, it looks like a lot of luggage didn’t arrive with passengers and was just thrown away.’
The UK government has reportedly ruled out conscripting the army to help at UK airports after Ireland put the army on standby to help in the event of further disruption in Dublin.
A government source told the Telegraph there were “no plans” for an application under the Military Aid to Civil Authorities (MACA) scheme.
Meanwhile, the Ryanair boss claimed flying had become “too cheap” and warned fares would rise over the next five years.
Michael O’Leary told the Financial Times that high oil prices and environmental burdens are expected to push Ryanair’s average fare from 40 euros (£35) to between 50 and 60 euros (£43 and £52) in the medium term .
“I find it absurd that every time I fly to Stansted the train journey to central London is more expensive than the plane ticket,” he told the newspaper.
What are my rights if strikes hit the summer holidays at Heathrow?
Airlines and airports are unable to say when the threat to summer holidays will end
Staffing shortages in ground handling, airports and flight crews have presented major challenges as the aviation sector struggles to enter peak season after two years of coronavirus turbulence linked to the pandemic.
Thousands of flights have been canceled on various airlines in recent weeks as capacity fails to meet demand – a problem also seen across Europe.
The Department for Transport has temporarily relaxed airport slot rules to help airlines avoid last-minute cancellations due to staff shortages.
He said airlines would be given a short window, described as an “amnesty”, to return take-off and landing slots they are unsure they can operate for the rest of the summer season.
It is hoped that being able to adjust schedules more freely will allow airlines to operate only those flights they can fully service, ending reports of passengers arriving at the airport only to have their flights canceled at the last minute. .
On Thursday, Heathrow asked airlines to remove 30 flights from the morning peak schedulestating that he expected “more passengers than the airport currently has the capacity to serve”.
Many passengers also had delayed or missing baggage.
There is also the imminent threat of industrial action, with hundreds of check-in workers and ground handling agents based at Heathrow vote last month for industrial action over wages.
A British Airways spokesman said the slot amnesty and resulting cancellations “will help us deliver the certainty our customers deserve by making it easier to regroup some of our quieter daily flights well in advance. to multi-frequency destinations”.
They said the airline “welcomes these new measures”, adding: “Slot relief allows airlines to temporarily reduce their schedules while retaining their slots for next year in order to maintain networks and ‘offering consumers certainty and consistency’.