Summer holidays under threat as British Airways cancels popular routes

Summer holidays under threat as British Airways cancels popular routes

Travel experts blamed ongoing staff shortages on months-long Home Office delays for security vetting of flight staff and the loss of thousands of experienced staff who were laid off during the pandemic but have not returned after finding jobs elsewhere.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “In the short-term you have got Covid [absence] which is becoming less of an issue, but in the longer term, there are still complications over recruiting enough staff.

“BA is only recruiting staff who already have security passes. The airline’s planners obviously believe there is a maximum number of people they feel they will recruit, therefore it has to cut back on frequency now based on its expected level of recruitment.

“It is readjusting in order to give as much notice as it can before it’s inevitable that they have to cancel those flights anyway. It is responding to concerns expressed by their customers and Government ministers about the lack of notice given to consumers.”

BA alone canceled around 300 flights over the Easter weekend, causing serious logistical issues and ruining holidays for many. The airline said most passengers were given notice of a week or two of flight cancellations.

Julia Simpson, chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and a former government adviser, said post-pandemic rebuilding after months of grounded staff and planes had been compounded by delays in security passes.

“When you rebuild, there is inevitably going to be some disruption. However the most important thing is that customers are told in advance. As long as you are given plenty of time and alternatives if you are told your flight is cancelled, it’s manageable,” she said.

A report by Oxford Economics for the WTTC forecast that international travel could be back to pre-pandemic levels by next year.

After global travel and tourism GDP fell by 50.4 per cent during the pandemic from $9.6 trillion (£7.4 trillion) to $4.8 trillion (£3.7 trillion) it grew by 21.7 per cent to $5.8 trillion last year and is projected to increase to $8.3 trillion by the end of this year and back to $9.6 trillion next year.

Global employment in the industry is expected to follow a similar path, rising at a rate of 5.8 per cent a year to 324 million workers worldwide in 2023, marginally down from the 333 million in 2019 before the pandemic.

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