Delays and flight cancellations are unavoidable at major European airports this summer, experts warn


Delays and cancellations are inevitable at European airports this summer due to staff shortages and high demand, a leading travel industry organization has warned.

A study by the European airport association ACI Europe found that two-thirds (66 percent) of airports on the continent expect an increase in flight cancellations and delays.

More than a third of the airports surveyed said operations would be affected by staff shortages, according to the report released last Thursday.

Airports in the UK have already struggled to keep up with the surge in demand following the end of Covid restrictions, with long queues reported at Manchester and Birmingham airports last month.

Air traffic in March was around a third below usual levels, the report said, marking a strong rebound from -51.1 percent in January 2022.

“Coping with this sudden increase and concentration of air traffic has been a challenge for airports and their operational partners – especially ground handlers,” said Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe, and Fabio Gamba, MD of ASA (Airport Services Association), in one joint conversation statement.

“This has led to an increase in flight delays and cancellations and a generally degraded passenger experience at many airports.”

Mr Jankovec said the challenge for airports is to cope with the increase in demand with “hugely depleted resources”.

“This now requires a replacement in a very tight job market across Europe,” he said.

“Furthermore, the time that national security clearance procedures require for airport staff combined with the training requirements make it simply impossible to adapt overnight. All of this, combined with traffic, which is much more concentrated at peak times, is putting a significant strain on the entire aviation system as we struggle to recover.”

His warning follows chaotic scenes at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport earlier this month, where a surge in passenger numbers was compounded by a ground staff strike.

Airport authorities urged passengers not to arrive at the airport on April 23 because the main terminal was “too crowded”.

Pictures showed huge queues stretching through the airport’s main concourses as thousands of passengers saw their flights were delayed.

© evening standard Delays and flight cancellations are unavoidable at major European airports this summer, experts warn

Fry Electronics Team

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