British Airways scraps another 10,000 flights

Aviation sector is battling staff shortages and booming demand as pandemic recedes

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British Airways has announced it will cut another 10,300 short-haul flights through the summer season as it tackles a staffing crisis that has led to chaotic scenes across Europe’s airports.

The move takes the percentage of cancellations across the airline to 13 per cent this summer.

BA has been among the carriers hardest hit by a staffing crisis, after dismissing 10,000 workers at the peak of the Covid pandemic.

The latest move comes after the UK government waived rules that require airlines to use airport operating slots or lose them for next season.

Airlines and airports across Europe have struggled to keep up with strong post-pandemic demand from holidaymakers.

Flight cancellations and huge queues in terminals have led to chaotic scenes and disruption for passengers.

BA has been one of the worst affected carriers in terms of schedule disruption in recent months.

Passengers will be able to rebook with BA or another airline or get a full refund, it said.

BA extended summer timetable cuts to 11 per cent on Tuesday. With the latest announcement, it has eliminated almost 30,000 flights.

The latest move comes less than two weeks after BA staff at London Heathrow airport voted to strike over pay this summer as surging inflation erodes wages and leads to growing UK industrial unrest.

The carrier's Heathrow ground staff voted by more than 90 per cent in favour of walkouts.

Earlier on Wednesday, the carrier said it was hiring Dutch rival KLM’s chief operating officer with a focus on improving operational resilience and increasing staff to ease the shortfall.

The airline said it was “not where we wanted to be” but believed the cuts were “the right thing to do for our customers and colleagues”.


British Airways through the years - in pictures


“The whole aviation industry continues to face into significant challenges and we’re completely focused on building resilience into our operation to give customers the certainty they deserve," it said.

“The Government recently decided to give the whole industry slot alleviation to minimise potential disruption this summer.

“While taking further action is not where we wanted to be, it’s the right thing to do for our customers and our colleagues.

“This new flexibility means that we can further reduce our schedule and consolidate some of our quieter services so that we can protect as many of our holiday flights as possible.

“While most of our flights are unaffected and the majority of customers will get away as planned, we don’t underestimate the impact this will have and we’re doing everything we can to get their travel plans back on track.

“We’re in touch to apologise and offer rebooking options for new flights with us or another airline as soon as possible, or issue a full refund.”

In a vote of confidence in the aviation sector's long-term recovery, BA's owner IAG last week ordered 11 Airbus A320neo aircraft and three A321neos worth $1.7 billion.

The London-listed conglomerate recently forecast a return to annual profit after narrowing Covid-induced losses as travel curbs were eased.

The group fell into annual losses in 2020 and 2021 as Covid-19 ravaged global demand for international air travel, forcing BA and its peers to cut thousands of jobs.

IAG owns various airlines that also include Ireland's Aer Lingus and Spain's Iberia.

Decades of flight: Heathrow through the years - in pictures

Updated: July 06, 2022, 7:26 PM