Now that travel restrictions are easing, and Covid rates are going down, many people are booking holidays abroad. Those that are booking would possibly be looking for a bigger and better holiday to compensate for the two years that many have had to spend at home.
So, is this an optimistic time for the travel and aviation industry? Not necessarily. According to CNN, getting to your destination looks as though it is going to be fraught with difficulty and chaos. In addition to dealing with changing rules on testing, vaccinations and quarantine, travellers will have to deal with other difficulties getting to their destination.
This does seem however a bit odd as many airlines were hoping for and preparing for a time like this when their services would be in high demand. One has to ask, therefore, what are these difficulties?
The Reasons Behind The Chaos
The aviation industry, in particular, is forecast to have severe chaos and problems this summer. The industry was badly affected by the pandemic.
However, despite many new airlines forming during this time, it appears that airlines and airports currently seem unable to cope with the surge in demand. Countries on both sides of the Atlantic are seeing a swathe of flight cancellations due to a lack of crew.
In addition, there have been long lines at airports due to understaffing. This is all due to the surge in demand for flights. Some airlines are doing very well because of this; this week Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian announced that March 2022 had been its best month in history.
In the US problems with the surge in demand have been brewing for the past year, as domestic travel has taken off again. In the UK chaos at airports has been making the headlines over the past two weeks. In particular, there was also much difficulty over the Easter break. There are however fewer problems in Europe.
The prediction of travel chaos this summer is also evident in the opinions of industry figures. Consumer advocate, Christopher Elliot has said what has happened so far is a preview of what is to come. Things are likely to get worse, he says. He believes that the summer will be chaos and has been advising his followers to avoid Europe in August, the peak of the peak season.
What is to Blame?
Elliott blames the travel chaos squarely on the door of the airlines. He feels that they have downsized and laid off staff during the pandemic and now that demand has come back they have been caught off guard. According to him, they have not been able to increase the number of staff fast enough to meet the surge in demand.
He says that whilst some delays can be blamed on the pandemic he does not really feel that this is a legitimate excuse. He also blames the problems in the US on antiquated systems which need updating. He says that when they crash it leads to massive cancellations.
Technical issues, blamed for mass cancellations in the US have also been affecting airlines over in the UK. British Airways has been plagued by technical issues. On February 26th a systems disruption saw the airline ground all short-haul flights. It was the second IT failure in 30 days and followed similar issues in 2017 and 2018. In addition to this chaos at the UK’s airports, hundreds of thousands of travellers have seen their flights cancelled or delayed.
In addition, many have ended up missing flights due to the chaos itself at UK airports. Airports particularly affected include Heathrow and Manchester which have often been in the news recently because of this.
As one can see the summer looks as though it will be a difficult one as airlines struggle to expand their numbers fast enough to cope with the surge in demand.
However, one could argue that the chaos would be difficult to avoid due to the fact that airlines were struggling during the pandemic and therefore to make ends meet they had to lay off staff. Perhaps for future reference, they should learn from this situation and endeavour to withstand losses during difficult times so that they can benefit later on when demand picks up.