UK flag carrier British Airways has announced that it will cut its planned schedule for the summer 2022 travel season by 10% to avoid a foreseen operation collapse precipitated by BA’s current lack of staff.
An on-going problem
British Airways, the second-largest UK-based carrier, has admitted defeat by preemptively cutting its desired summer schedule to ensure that a lack of staff will not slow operations to a standstill.
The summer season is looking to be a positive one for the vast majority of airlines across the globe as figures predict passenger levels to be on par or above those of 2019. But BA has had to make the hard decision to cut its short- and medium-haul plans for the summer to ensure that they will be able to serve all passengers without delays and cancellations.
BA’s Chief Executive Sean Doyle summed the matter up by summarising how challenging the rebuild is for carriers post-pandemic. In the quarterly earnings call, he continued:
“The US carriers had similar rebuild problems earlier in the process, we see problems in Europe and the UK industry getting the system back up and running.”
The cuts will affect 8,000 round trips scheduled throughout the summer season.
The International Airlines Group (IAG) has taken into account BA’s adjustments and now expects to reach 80% of its pre-pandemic capacity during the summer season – this is down from the initial forecast of 85%. IAG is a parent company of British Airways, Aer Lingus, Spanish flag carrier Iberia and more.
IAG hopes to see an increase back to 85% in the third quarter and 90% in the fourth quarter. These predictions are motivated by an incoming (and optimistic) hiring spree that should see 6,000 new staff enlisted by the time 2022 comes to an end.
IAG has struggled to rehire workers after the pandemic was no longer such a limiting factor. BA is suffering from what most carriers in Europe are struggling with – rehiring workers and managing to keep operations as efficient as possible as demand increases while record numbers of absenteeism threaten that.
BA has also struggled with hiring at a faster pace because of the time it takes for new hires to obtain staff security clearances before being able to work. The UK government has proposed a possible solution, but if approved that could take a while to materialise and become operational.
Meanwhile, British Airways has taken to wet-leasing four Airbus A321-200s from Finnish carrier Finnair and two Boeing 757-200s from Titan Airways, a carrier that specialises in wet-lease operations. The Heathrow-based carrier has also opened a crew hub in Madrid to tackle staff shortages.
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