As the peak summer travel season sets in, destinations in Europe are bracing for an un- anticipated travel load with both airlines and airport operators facing off to manage the traffic. While ports and airports are alerting passengers of potential delays in their travel plans, airlines are beginning to cancel flights at key destinations.
The issue came in the spotlight after the public tiff between London Heathrow Airport and Dubai-based airline Emirates, where the airport operator forced the carrier to cut down capacity so that it could manage the unusually heavy traffic.
Problem at Europe’s airports
When the Covid-19 pan-demic emerged two years ago and the aviation industry got hit severely, airlines and airports handed pink slips to workers to reduce costs as flights remained grounded for a long time. However, with Covid slowly receding, people have started travelling and airlines have started boarding flights; but staff at airports weren’t hired in line with the growing traffic. This, in addition to several airport and security worker unions at European airports going on strike seeking better pay, has led to a severe shortage of labour causing disruptions in flight operations.
These issues have emerged at some of the top European airport hubs, including Heathrow in London, Amsterdam’s Schiphol, Brussels airport, Frankfurt airport, and several others. The most visible problem is that of delayed baggage. As a result of labour shortage, passenger luggage is not being loaded into aircraft on time, and several flights are departing without carrying their passengers’ luggage.
Additionally, airports are witnessing long queues, causing passengers to miss their flights. Further, as per a Reuters report, the Port of Dover — the UK’s gateway to Europe — on Friday declared a “critical incident” over long delays, blaming French authorities for causing a bottleneck as holidaymakers look to start their summer breaks. Ferry operators warned passengers travelling to Calais of facing delays of up to four hours at the start of what is typically one of the busiest periods of travel as schools break up for their summer holiday.
On July 14, Emirates issued a strongly-worded statement rejecting London Heathrow’s demands for cutting airline capacity.“ At London Heathrow airport (LHR), our ground handling and catering — run by dnata, part of the Emirates Group — are fully ready and capable of handling our flights.