It’s not yet July, but so far the summer’s return to travel has been something of a disaster – at least for the thousands who have dealt with flight cancellations at UK airports. Since May 2022, thousands of flights have been canceled or delayed, and airlines are warning that the uncertainty will go on throughout the summer, at least.
With school holidays nearly upon us, and strikes set to affect air traffic further, it’s highly unlikely the issue will be resolved within the next couple of months. We spoke with Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy UK, who explained the reasons behind the chaos at airports right now.
Why are so many flights being cancelled?
“Staff shortages have been the main culprit of flight cancellations and delays after the air-travel industry laid off thousands of workers during the pandemic,” explains Nicky. “Since the industry has been attempting to get back on its feet, bringing workers back has been a real struggle as many of those initially unemployed went on to find jobs in other industries for better pay and more sociable hours.
“This week, EasyJet confirmed it would be canceling hundreds more flights, and put the reasons down to staff shortages, air traffic control delays, flight caps at certain airports and a tight labor market.”
If your flight does get cancelled, you have two options – the airline either has to find a new re-routed flight or provide you with a full refund.
Are flight cancellations anything to do with Brexit?
There’s been plenty of blame thrown around for the current travel situation, and Brexit has been brought up by many. “Some airlines such as EasyJet have suggested that Brexit is partly to blame for the ongoing travel chaos and cancellations,” Nicky says. “One of the main reasons being that airlines claim they have had to turn down a large number of applicants that are EU nationals.
“Whilst Brexit will be contributing to the issue, we are seeing these sorts of staffing issues globally in the aviation industry so it’s not solely a Brexit-related issue”
When will flights return to ‘normal’?
It’s the question everyone wants the answer to: will travel return to normal any time soon? “Unfortunately, it looks as if the chaos is here to stay as delays and cancellations are getting considerably worse as we enter summer,” Nicky says.
And, in fact, travelers should prepare themselves for the worst as we enter the busiest travel months of the year. “Recently, the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority wrote to airlines telling them to cancel flights now if their schedules aren’t deliverable. Once the summer months have quietened down, there is a chance we will see the chaos settle, but with everyone desperate to go on holiday in the first pandemic-free summer, I would prepare for a long few months of queues and cancellations.”