Aviation expert suggests Britons should consider cancelling holidays

Aviation expert suggests Britons should consider cancelling holidays

June 10, 2022

‘Consider CANCELLING your holiday’: Aviation expert suggests Britons could spare themselves from airport chaos and risk of being stranded aboard by cutting their losses and staying in UK

  • Aviation expert Julian Bray says those who have only paid 10% deposit should consider cancelling now 
  • Strike action across Europe threatens to wreak further havoc on summer getaways after half-term chaos
  • Pilots from France working for easyJet have warned of the ‘frightening prospect’ of even worse disruption
  • Unions for Ryanair crew in Spain say they have ‘no option’ but to call for a walk-out after pay talks ended 

British tourists who have only paid a deposit for their holiday should consider cancelling now to avoid facing a massive bill to get home if their flights are cancelled amid the airport chaos, an aviation expert claimed today.

UK holidaymakers heading abroad endured further long queues again today as others were warned strike action across Europe threatens to wreak more havoc on summer getaways amid fears the situation could get worse.

And aviation expert Julian Bray told MailOnline this afternoon that those who have only paid a deposit of about 10 per cent should consider cancelling now ‘because you have no guarantee of an outward flight or a return flight’.

He gave an example of a family of four who become stuck in the Canary Islands with no available seats on flights for days and could therefore face a £4,000 bill to get home to the UK via ferry, rail and possibly more flights.

Mr Bray said: ‘If you just paid a deposit and its usually about 10 per cent, it’s worth considering cancelling your holiday at the moment because you have no guarantee of an outward flight or a return flight – or if your return flight is delayed or cancelled and you need to be put up in a hotel. If you’re on the Canary Islands, it’s a problem. 

‘If you’re a family of four as a capital sum that could be £3,000 to £4,000. If you then have to pay for return transit, which would be a ferry to the mainland, possible train, possible new flights – then all the baggage to contend with.

‘I don’t say everybody should do it, but they should consider. If you’ve got a spare £2,000 or £3,000 that you can take as emergency money so you’ve got the wherewithal to get back, you might take a different view on it.’

He said airlines were struggling to move people from cancelled flights onto other planes because booking levels were so high – and that previous policies of overbooking by 10 per cent because there were normally 20 per cent no-shows were now redundant post-Covid, because ‘everybody wants to get away and nobody is cancelling’.

Mr Bray also warned that there were 60,000 job vacancies to be filled in the industry, and a backlog of three to six months of potential workers going through the vetting procedure which they require before starting training.

He advised people consider cancelling ‘up to Christmas because the delay in getting clearance for people is three to six months which means that the training starts after that, which means you’re still not going to be up to speed’.

Meanwhile easyJet pilots have accused the ‘chaotic’ airline of cancelling viable flights over the half-term holidays after ‘foolish’ bosses thought they could operate despite making hundreds of staff redundant in the pandemic.

Pilots from France working for the Luton-based company warned of the ‘frightening prospect’ of even worse disruption this summer as fears build that customers will stop using the airline after being put off by the chaos.

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Holidaymakers and commuters flying from Bristol once again encounter lengthy queues pre-4am today

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Huge queues at Bristol Airport this morning again as people arrive before 4am for their flights

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Air passengers flying from Bristol Airport this morning once again encounter lengthy queues pre-4am

Workers from the French SNPL pilot union also accused easyJet officials of failing to act on warnings that the firm could not cope with demand after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted amid ‘operational meltdowns’. They also said there ‘seems to be a curse on easyJet top management, bound to become penny wise and pound foolish’.

The letter, written to easyJet’s Swedish chief executive Johan Lundgren, accused executives of being ‘fooled’ into believing they could put on a summer schedule despite ‘less flight crew, cabin crew or flight planning officers’.

EasyJet cut 1,400 UK jobs in the first ten months of the pandemic up to January 2021, having initially warned shortly after the Covid-19 crisis began that up to 4,500 members of its 15,000 workforce could lose their jobs. The airline’s pre-tax losses over the six months to March were revealed last month to have hit £557million.

Meanwhile unions representing Ryanair crew in Spain said they had ‘no option’ but to call for a walk-out after the carrier abandoned pay talks. The move raises the prospect of more misery for travellers, many of whom are still stuck at holiday destinations after their flights home were cancelled following half-term flight chaos. 

According to the i newspaper, the French pilots said in their letter: ‘Literally hundreds of employees in distress have fed back how chaotic our operations have become recently, to unprecedented levels… We are actually convinced that our disruption hasn’t even peaked yet and frankly this is a frightening prospect.’

They claimed there were dozens of ‘red cancellations’ just minutes before departure, and some early flights were cancelled at the last-minute despite easyJet bosses knowing the night before that no crew were available.

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Foreign Secretary David Lammy tweeted a picture of huge queues at Heathrow this morning

LONDON LUTON AIRPORT: Passengers travelling through Luton early this morning faced huge queues at passport control

EasyJet, which about 550 French-based pilots, said it would respond directly to the SNPL – and a spokesman told the i: ‘Delivering a safe and reliable operation for our customers and crew is the airline’s highest priority. EasyJet continues to operate up to around 1,700 flights and carry around a quarter of a million customers every day.

Flight cancellations today at airports in England 

TOTAL – 67

GATWICK (28)

Departures (14)

  • EasyJet (12) – Venice, Amsterdam, Turin, Milan, Zurich, Geneva, Berlin, Preveza, Valencia, Pisa, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona
  • WestJet (1) – Toronto
  • Wizz Air (1) – Milan

Arrivals (14)

  • EasyJet (12) – Venice, Amsterdam, Turin, Milan, Zurich, Geneva, Berlin, Preveza, Valencia, Pisa, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona [same flights]
  • WestJet (1) – Toronto
  • Wizz Air (1) – Malaga

HEATHROW (10)

Departures (4)

  • Lufthansa (1) – Frankfurt
  • KLM (1) – Amsterdam
  • United Airlines (1) – Washington
  • Malaysia Airlines (1) – Kuala Lumpur

Arrivals (6)

  • Lufthansa (1) – Frankfurt
  • KLM (1) – Amsterdam
  • United Airlines (1) – Washington
  • Malaysia Airlines (1)- Kuala Lumpur
  • Air China (2) – Beijing, Shanghai

LUTON (5)

Departures (3)

  • Wizz Air (1) – Sofia
  • EasyJet (2) – Jersey, Malaga

Arrivals (2)

  • Wizz Air (1) – Sofia
  • EasyJet (1) – Jersey

STANSTED (2)

Departures (1)

  • EasyJet (1) – Edinburgh

Arrivals (1)

  • EasyJet (1) – Edinburgh

BIRMINGHAM (6)

Arrivals (3)

  • EasyJet (3) – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Malaga

Departures (3)

  • EasyJet (3) – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Malaga

BRISTOL (12)

Arrivals (6)

  • EasyJet (6) – Krakow, Glasgow, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Basel, Belfast

Departures (6)

  • EasyJet (6) – Krakow, Glasgow, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Basel, Belfast

MANCHESTER (4)

Arrivals (2)

  • KLM (1) – Amsterdam
  • SAS (1) – Oslo

Departures (2)

  • KLM (1) – Amsterdam
  • SAS (1) – Oslo

‘However, the ongoing challenging operating environment continues to have an impact which is resulting in a small proportion of flight cancellations. We are absolutely focused on our daily operation and continue to monitor this very closely and will not hesitate to take action as needed.’

There were also huge queues at London Heathrow Airport this morning, where Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy tweeted this morning: ‘Arriving from work in Afghanistan this morning at 7am. 

‘(Home Secretary) Priti Patel has achieved the longest passport control queue I have ever seen at Heathrow. A warm welcome home to fellow citizens and visitors alike. Another feather in her cap. Well done.’ 

Today, some 67 flights were cancelled across airports in England including 47 by easyJet – with Gatwick worst hit.

At Gatwick, the airline axed 28 flights with an equal split of departures and arrivals to the 14 destinations of Venice, Amsterdam, Turin, Milan, Zurich, Geneva, Berlin, Preveza, Valencia, Pisa, Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona.

There were 12 easyJet flights cancelled at Bristol Airport today, including six arrivals and six departures to and from Krakow, Glasgow, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Basel and Belfast.

At Luton, easyJet cancelled three flights including routes to Jersey and Malaga. At Stansted, a flight to and from Edinburgh was axed, while there were cancellations at Birmingham to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Malta.

It comes after an estimated 10,000 passengers were grounded yesterday as easyJet pulled another 60 flights.

The boss of Heathrow has already warned of up to 18 months of disruption as the aviation industry struggles to recruit and train staff to replace those let go during the pandemic. 

Yesterday consumer groups responded by calling for tougher action against airlines that fail to switch passengers to another carrier.

Rory Boland of Which? Travel said it was totally unacceptable that easyJet customers had seen their holiday plans thrown into chaos at the last minute.

He added: ‘The cavalier approach some airlines are currently taking toward their customers is a reminder of why passenger rights must be strengthened.’

Mr Boland said the Civil Aviation Authority should be given direct fining powers to hold airlines to account when they flout the law.

One father told yesterday how his child had to urinate in a plastic bag as his family endured a two-hour security queue at Manchester Airport ahead of a flight to Berlin.

In Italy, crews from Ryanair and easyJet walked off the job on Wednesday, while workers at France’s Charles de Gaulle airport went on strike yesterday for more pay, with a quarter of flights cancelled.

In Spain two unions representing Ryanair cabin crew yesterday threatened to cause disruption this summer after Europe’s biggest budget airline walked away from pay talks.

They have previously warned of co-ordinated action with colleagues in Italy, France, Portugal and Belgium.

BA travellers face more disruption because the GMB union is balloting Heathrow check-in staff and ground handlers over pay.

Ryanair last night insisted it had reached agreement with 90 per cent of its workers, including with Spain’s biggest union.

It branded the threats from smaller unions ‘a distraction from their own failures to deliver agreements’ adding that ‘we do not expect widespread disruption this summer’. EasyJet apologised to stranded passengers, blaming the strikes in Italy and France.

The Daily Mail reported yesterday that air fares could rise by nearly 10 per cent this summer, partly through higher fuel costs.

Also earlier this week, a leading airline boss sparked a safety row after urging pilots to keep working even if they are ‘fatigued’.

Jozsef Varadi, the chief executive of Wizz Air, has come under fire after calling on staff to lower the company’s ‘fatigue rate’.

In an internal video seen by the Daily Mail, the budget airline boss said: ‘We are all fatigued but sometimes it is required to take the extra mile. We cannot run this business when every fifth person of a base reports sickness because the person is fatigued.

Tourists sit at a cafe terrace at Levante Beach in Benidorm on Tuesday as they go on a summer holiday

Tourists enjoy the swimming pool of a hotel at Levante Beach in Benidorm on Tuesday as they enjoy a holiday

A woman carries an inflatable dummy as she walks along the promenade at Levante Beach in Benidorm on Tuesday

‘The damage is huge when we are cancelling the flight. It is the reputational damage of the brand. And it is other financial damage because we have to pay compensation for that.’

Wizz Air has been forced to axe dozens of flights in recent weeks amid staff shortages and wider travel disruption across the UK.

But Martin Chalk, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association, condemned Mr Varadi’s comments, saying: ‘I am shocked that an airline CEO would advise actions so contrary to even a basic safety culture.

‘I would urge Mr Varadi to swiftly clarify that Wizz Air would fully support any pilot who does the right thing for the safety of their passengers, crew and aircraft by not flying if they are fatigued.’

The controversy comes after the Hungarian-based carrier announced it had racked up losses of £550million for the 12 months to the end of March – although revenue more than doubled to £1.4billion.

More than 27million passengers flew with Wizz Air last year – up from 17million the year before.

In an optimistic address, Mr Varadi said he expects the airline to deliver its ‘largest ever summer flying programme and the fastest growth in the industry’.

However Wizz Air is expecting to post further losses between April and June due to higher fuel costs and ongoing airport chaos.

Other major airlines, such as British Airways and easyJet, have also faced disruption since Covid travel curbs were loosened in March.

Earlier this week, Sajid Javid blasted the industry, saying it was ‘about time [it] took more responsibility for sorting its own challenges out.’

The Health Secretary added: ‘We haven’t seen similar problems in France, Germany or Italy. 

‘They also have very low unemployment rates like we do so they face labour market challenges like we do. The industry should have done better. The industry got caught out.’

A Wizz Air spokesman said: ‘Supply chain issues are affecting all airlines, in particular staff availability and welfare. In this context, going the extra mile for all our customers to minimise disruption was a main topic of this briefing.’

They added that safety is the airline’s ‘first priority’ and said they have ‘a robust and responsible crew management system’.

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