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Flight cancellations, chaos in airports…: criticism rains down on the British aviation sector before the Queen’s jubilee

Flight cancellations, chaos in airports…: criticism rains down on the British aviation sector before the Queen’s jubilee


Flight cancellations, chaos in airports: critics rained down in the United Kingdom, denouncing the lack of preparation of the aviation sector before the jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and a summer season which promises to be busy.

“UK airports are in crisis because thousands of jobs have been cut (during the pandemic) and working conditions” have deteriorated, said Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, in a statement on Wednesday.

The airline industry has been one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has grounded much traffic amid lockdowns and travel restrictions, leading airlines and airports to lay off thousands of workers. employees.

Airlines were “ill-prepared” for demand to pick up, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab charged on Sky News on Wednesday as travel resumed in full swing ahead of a restrictions-free summer season sanitary.

“I don’t think the airline operators did the recruiting work they should have done”insisted Mr. Raab, recalling that the sector had benefited from “eight billion pounds of aid during the pandemic” and that the government had relaxed the rules “to facilitate recruitment”.

The problem should last “a good part of the summer season”, in the United Kingdom as on the rest of the European continent, warns a memo from the organization of European companies Airlines for Europe.

Exasperation

“Airlines have been grounded for almost two years” and “the sector has had just a few weeks to recover and prepare for one of the busiest summers we have had in many years”defended the sectoral organization Airlines UK.

Despite that, “the vast majority of the tens of thousands of planned flights (…) will fly”she insists in a press release.

Manchester airport was particularly in the line of fire, as testimonies have multiplied for weeks on exasperated travelers after having waited for hours to go through security or collect their luggage, and for some missing their flight, when those- these were not cancelled.

“Carnage again this morning at Manchester Airport”thus testified a passenger on Twitter Wednesday around 4 am, with a photo showing a queue stretching to the outside of the terminal.

Manchester Airport regretted on Twitter “delays in check-in and baggage receipt for some passengers”, while shifting responsibility to airlines and their ground service providers.

Criticism also targets “massive cancellations of flights in the UK”, which are also the consequence of a “serious shortage of workers” after the mass layoffs during the pandemic, according to Susannah Streeter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Hundreds of cancellations

In Manchester but also in other airports in the country, including Heathrow or Gatwick in London, cancellations are counted this week by the hundreds, from the tour operator Tui or companies such as British Airways or Easyjet.

The company in the orange livery was also the victim of computer problems last week which led it to cancel some 200 additional flights.

“It’s a pretty difficult time for the whole sector” reacted British Airways, which notably ensures that it is focusing on “the biggest recruitment campaign in (its) history” and says it has “reduced the flight schedule to give more certainty” to customers, according to a statement sent to AFP.

The Unite union also warns that Ryanair flights from London’s Stansted airport could experience “serious disruption this summer” due to a pay dispute at ground handling company Blue Handling.



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