Disruption across the aviation industry in the UK continues in full force as airlines struggle with the sheer number of passengers overwhelming the number of seats and staff available.
Sunday saw easyJet passengers at the heart of the disruption as a staggering 80 flights were cancelled.
The nightmare continues…
At the end of the four-day Platinum Jubilee weekend across the UK, easyJet issued a statement apologising to the passengers affected by the cancellations and added that it was doing everything possible to get them to their intended destinations:
“We are very sorry and fully understand the disruption this will have caused for our customers.”
easyJet extended its customer service opening hours from 07:00 am to 23:00 pm and was helping those affected find hotel accommodation. The Switzerland-based carrier attributed the cancellations as due to “the ongoing challenging operating environment.”
And this isn’t the first time easyJet has cancelled flights in recent weeks.
On 26 May, during the school holidays, an IT issue saw the Swiss low-cost airline cancel a third of all of its flights across the UK.
Elsewhere, London Gatwick Airport said that 52 departures and 30 arrivals were cancelled on Sunday. While the majority of the affected flights were easyJet, British Airways, Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling and Wizz Air were also impacted.
And, as reported by Travel Radar, London Luton Airport suffered diversions after a power failure ground the airport to a halt for a couple of hours on Sunday.
The government’s perspective
This latest issue comes as the UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps responded to easyJet and the crisis facing airlines in recent weeks on BBC One’s Sunday Morning Programme. He said that labour shortages were behind the stressful travel disruption, resulting in airlines “finding it difficult to get people on board.” He continued:
“When someone has bought a ticket for a flight, they’ve every right to expect that flight will take off, and not find that flight has been cancelled. Airlines should be cautious about not overselling those flights, [and] where there are problems they need to fix them quickly.”
According to Shapps, the government has provided £8 billion of support to the bulging sector during the pandemic, so decisions to cut staff were made on the industry’s own accord, adding that airlines “clearly have been taken by surprise by the way in which people have returned to travel after two years of being locked down.”
Solutions from Shapps included a “proper charter” for passengers so they are able to receive “quick and straightforward compensation or be put on other flights”, but relaxing immigration and visa requirements (a plan suggested by airlines) to help ease the overwhelming disruption by enlisting help from EU aviation workers for the short term was rejected by the travel secretary.
While backed by London’s mayor Sadiq Khan, Grant Shapps appears to remain against the idea.
Unfortunately, it does not seem as if these disruptions and delays plaguing the UK’s aviation sector will be settling any time soon. Hopefully, the situation will settle since, as Sadiq Khan put it – “what we don’t want is this spring misery turned into summer misery.”
Have you been affected by the string of disruptions on Sunday? Let us know in the comments below.