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Additional 1,500 flights operated by British Airways have been canceled, most of them previously scheduled for July. Tens of thousands of passengers expecting to depart this summer from Heathrow and Gatwick will be impacted by the most recent wave of cancellations.
As air travel demand has increased, staff shortages have been a problem for the industry. As a result, British Airways stated that “regrettably” additional reductions were necessary despite having previously cut 10% of the scheduled flights between April and October.
The UK’s largest airline stated: “We reduced our summer schedule earlier this year as a preventative measure to give passengers as much warning as possible about any changes to their travel arrangements.
Customers were contacted by the carrier, which claimed it was doing so to “express regret and offer to rebook them or issue a full refund.”
The wave of cancellations occurs ahead of Friday’s deadline for an amnesty to give airlines a brief window to return airport slots in the summer season they are not confident they will be able to operate. The amnesty was announced last month by the Department for Transport (DfT).
Before the deadline, BA is anticipated to make additional cancellation announcements over the summer.
Airport slots provide airlines the green light to take off or land at a particular time on a particular day. Normally, if airlines cancel flights, they run the danger of losing the slots and suffering a blow to their bottom line.
The cancellations coincide with the decision-making process of hundreds of British Airways check-in agents at Heathrow, which may further impact the busiest travel season during the summer school holidays.
The COVID pandemic caused significant employment losses in the aviation sector, and airlines and airports have found it challenging to find enough workers in time to handle the spike in demand for travel.
Before the airport slot amnesty was announced, Gatwick stated that it would be decreasing the number of flights throughout the summer due to manpower shortages.
Manchester Airport has also stated that it won’t be able to reach its pre-pandemic levels of service until the autumn.
Over the Easter and half-term vacations, thousands of customers were impacted by last-minute flight cancellations.
The government and the aviation watchdog, the Civil Aviation Authority, wrote to airlines in response to the earlier disruption instructing them to make sure their summer itineraries were “deliverable… based on the resources you and your contractors expect to have available.”