British Airways 'king of cancellations' as 900 flights scrapped over long weekend

BA has made the largest cuts to its schedules of any British airline since July 1

British Airways has pulled hundreds of flights from its August bank holiday schedule. PA
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British Airways has made itself “king of cancellations” for the coming bank holiday weekend in the UK, scrapping more than 900 flights between Friday and Tuesday.

Aviation data company Cirium said the flights, which had been due to depart UK airports, had been removed from schedules since the start of last month.

The decision by BA to slash nearly 290,000 flights from its timetable comes as the airline wrestles with higher demand for travel and chronic staff shortages.

However, most of the cancellations were caused by staffing deficiencies across the aviation sector, which has led to caps on operations at airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick in London.

The restrictions have wreaked havoc on the summer plans of millions of holidaymakers and led to a dramatic rise in air fares.

The August bank holiday weekend is one of the busiest periods of the peak summer travel season in Britain, and this year tens of thousands of people are set to head abroad before the new school year starts.

The number of outbound flights from the UK over the long weekend is 21 per cent below 2019 levels, Cirium said.

BA, which was known as “king of the skies” during its heyday, is responsible for the largest cuts since July 1, with nearly 380 UK departures scrapped.

Flybe has removed more than 130 outbound flights from its schedules, while easyJet has scrapped about 90.

The number of cancelled inbound flights to Britain between Friday and Tuesday is also about 900, meaning the total number of seats on aircraft serving UK airports is about 288,000 fewer than planned.

Customer backlash

Some BA passengers have been hit by a number of cancellations.

"Thanks British Airways for changing our flights again from London to Edinburgh," tweeted one disappointed customer with the Twitter name McGowan. "This is our third flight now due to cancellations. Do you really think [it is] acceptable changing from 3.30 to 10 Sunday evening?"

A customer with the Twitter name Ffy on Wednesday said their flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh had been called off, "so we now have nine hours to wait" at the London airport.

Rebecca Crook said BA's delay in offering her a refund after cancelling her flight was a "customer service fail".

"British Airways flight cancelled 2 months ago now, still no refund. Any idea when you may process this?" she wrote on Twitter.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said a shortage of staff was holding the sector back from taking advantage of the post-pandemic travel boom.

“It’s astonishing to see over a quarter of a million seats cut from flight schedules at a time when demand to fly remains high,” he said.

“Some UK airports are continuing to impose caps on the numbers departing, so disrupting travel plans and forcing seat prices higher due to the squeeze on availability.

“Our aviation sector should be growing strongly on one of the busiest weekends of the year and not held back by staff shortages and poor planning by airports and ground handlers.

“There are aircraft ready to be used but not enough people to get them prepared and off the ground.”

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Updated: August 25, 2022, 11:37 AM