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UK airlines and airports have been warned of levels of passenger disruption as people head overseas ahead of Easter, some of them for the first time since the pandemic began.
After days of long queues, cancellations and chaotic airport scenes, the aviation regulator has warned travel companies to stop canceling flights at the last minute and pay compensation quickly disturbed passengers.
Civil Aviation Authority chief executive Richard Moriarty wrote to airlines and airports, saying:
“Cases of late notice cancellations and excessive airport delays are not only distressing to affected consumers, but have the potential to impact confidence levels across the industry, just when passengers resume the flight.”
The CAA warning comes as airlines and cross-Channel services prepare for their busiest weekend since the start of the pandemic, with outgoing and returning holidaymakers expected to increase in numbers at ports which have already had a hard time. struggling to keep up with growing demand.
Airports and airlines have blamed recruitment problems and the Covid-19 disease for leaving them short-staffed. After downsizing once the pandemic started, the industry is trying to meet renewed demand for travel after the UK lifted the latest testing restrictions on March 18.
Moriarty, however, says recruiting should have been faster and insists the travel industry is setting “deliverable” timelines:
We know that you are working hard to recruit these new colleagues, but it has to be said that it has not always been done quickly enough to cope with the increase in passenger movements in recent days.
Given the consequences for passengers of canceled and disrupted journeys, I encourage you to do all you can to ensure that you have the necessary level of properly trained and authorized staff resources.
It is “very important” that airlines establish schedules “on a deliverable basis given the available staff (including contractors) and resistant to staff illnesses, including due to Covid”, added Mr. Moriarty.
Hundreds of flights have been canceled in recent days, with British Airways canceling another 74 flights on Thursday and easyJet 52.
There is also disruption in Kent, where an eastern section of the M20 was closed this week to allow thousands of lorries to park, due to delays at the Port of Dover.
Also coming today.
In energy markets, the price of Brent crude oil is hovering around $100 a barrel after members of the International Energy Agency yesterday agreed to release an additional 60 million barrels from their emergency stockpiles , in a context of shortage exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Boris Johnson is expected to meet the German Chancellor to discuss how to help European countries wean off Russian gas after the attack on Ukraine.
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