Worldwide Chaos Greets Travelers at Airports Ahead of Major Travel Periods

In U.S., Forecast for Fourth of July Holiday Weekend is Flight Delays and Cancellations

London Heathrow from the air.

By Anna Breuer on 27 June 2022
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Across the globe, passengers were greeted at airports and by airlines with chaos and meltdowns. Post-lockdown staff shortages and passenger unrest are blighting what was once a tolerable, if not pleasant, experience on both sides of the Atlantic.

Indeed, just when travelers are returning in droves to the skies, they are finding that the skies suddenly can’t handle the increased demand.

The end of coronavirus test requirements and isolation periods should have been the recipe for a new dawn in air travel.  Instead, airports are requiring airlines to trim their schedules based on what they feel they can safely manage, while airline and airport staff are planning strikes and walkouts.

Schiphol, known and admired worldwide for offering one of the best airport experiences in the world, told airlines to cut 13,500 flights over the summer, a move that greatly impacts its largest carrier, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

London Heathrow, one of Europe’s busiest airports, expects 700 check-in and ground staff to strike during the peak travel month of July, and employees at Ryanair and EasyJet, two of Europe’s biggest low-cost carriers, expect strikes as well.  EasyJet also said last week it would cut additional flights, citing a shortage of ground personnel and impose a cap on flights at major airports it serves including London Gatwick and Schiphol.

Last week, United Airlines, after numbers showed that one-third of its flight delays were at Newark Liberty International Airport, an aerodrome which serves the New York metropolitan area, cut its Newark schedule by 12%.

Airports in the region are racing to hire thousands of new employees but between training and obtaining security clearance, most won’t be staffing check-in desks in the next few weeks.

In the United States, airlines are blaming the Federal Aviation Administration for “crippling” operations due to understaffing at FAA control centers.

The airline industry said Friday it wants to know the FAA’s staffing plans for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend “so we can plan accordingly.”

In a letter from Airlines for America, an association that represents major U.S. carriers, to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the group noted that its members are “actively and nimbly doing everything possible to create a positive customer experience, since it is in an airline’s inherent interest to keep customers happy, so they return for future business.”

American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, said it was ending services to four small cities in New York and Ohio because it doesn’t have enough pilots to captain its planes.

“In response to the regional pilot shortage affecting the airline industry, American Airlines has made the difficult decision to end service in Dubuque, Iowa, Islip and Ithaca, New York, and Toledo, Ohio,” the carrier said in a statement.

This change goes into effect in September.

American also said that it has approximately 100 regional aircraft that remain grounded due to the pilot shortage.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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