The UK airlines and operators have “seriously oversold flights and holidays” relative to their capacity to deliver, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said. Railway Passengers are being advised that rail routes between London, the Midlands and North West will be open as usual during the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend (2-5 June).
Mr Shapps said it had been “very distressing” to see people facing more disruption at airports with “holidays cancelled and plans left in disarray”. The passengers are facing travel problems ahead of the Jubilee weekend, with several airlines cancelling flights.
Up to two million people are preparing to fly over the next few days. Eight new cities are being created for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, with at least one in every UK nation – and on the Falkland Islands and Isle of Man. The vast majority of flights will be operating as scheduled, said Airlines United Kingdom which represents Tui, EasyJet and British Airways.
Mr Shapps said the UK government had been clear that it was up to industry leaders to tackle travel disruption, which was also seen at Easter.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that he would meet with airports, airlines and ground handlers to “find out what’s gone wrong and how they are planning to end the current run of cancellations and delays”.
He said that despite government warnings, operators seriously oversold flights and holidays relative to their capacity to deliver. This must not happen again and all efforts should be directed at there being no repeat of this over the summer – the first post-Covid summer season.
Passengers are facing ongoing disruption ahead of the bank holiday weekend, with holiday giant Tui announcing it will cancel six flights a day until the end of June, affecting around 34,000 travellers in all.
Around 10,000 flights are set to leave the UK between Thursday and Sunday, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium.
Other airlines, including EasyJet, have also cancelled flights, with the aviation industry suffering from staff shortages as it struggles to recruit replacements for the thousands of workers it laid off during the coronavirus pandemic when international travel halted.
Before Covid-19, airports and airlines across Britain employed around 140,000 people, but since then thousands of jobs have been cut, including around 30,000 for UK airlines alone.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive from ABTA – The Travel Association said, “The return of international travel after two years of heavy government restrictions on the industry, and minimal levels of financial support was never going to happen without challenge. While the vast majority of people have been able to get away on holiday this week, it is of course disappointing for those who have been caught up in delays or who have seen their travel plans cancelled. ABTA has been providing advice and guidance to customers throughout this time, appearing on national and local radio and TV to put the issues into context and advise consumers of their rights.
“The comments from the Government this week are deeply frustrating and do not correlate with the events of the last two years. ABTA, along with the rest of the industry, warned the Government time and time again that thousands of jobs would be lost, and the industry’s recovery would be delayed if the Government did not provide sector-specific support for the travel industry.
“The lack of recognition from Government that it was only March this year when all UK travel restrictions had been lifted, despite furlough being reduced from July 2021 and then removed altogether in September, is particularly disappointing.
“We have been in touch directly with the government to share our dismay with Ministerial comments this week, and to urge officials to look at how red tape in the recruitment process can be reduced to help the sector. It is welcome the Transport Secretary has committed to engagement with the industry and it is vitally important that any conversations involve the wider travel industry alongside airports and airlines.”