Air Travel Disruptions Could Extend Into Next Winter & Beyond

That’s the claim from the boss of Heathrow airport as flights continue to be cancelled with some passengers experiencing long delays. The Government has urged action from the travel industry but is criticised for offering little practical support. UPDATED

The CEO of Heathrow airport, John Holland-Kaye, has said large-scale cancellations and delays could last for another 18 months.

“I think it will take 12 to 18 months for the aviation sector to fully recover capacity, so we will have to really carefully manage supply and demand,” Holland-Kay said at the Financial Times’ Global Boardroom conference earlier this month.

He wants the government to make it easier to recruit staff with security background checks speeded up.

On Monday 20th June the airport said around 30 flights carrying up to 5,000 passengers have been cancelled due to technical issues affecting baggage systems.

The airport asked airlines to cut 10% of flights from schedules across terminals two and three on Monday.

Tens of thousands of passengers have been hit by airport disruption and flight cancellations in recent weeks.

Action has already been taken over the summer with Gatwick Airport forced to reduce the number of flights during the peak summer period due to staff shortages.

The number of daily flights is to be reduced to 825 in July and 850 in August – down from 900 in past years.

Gatwick airport. Image © PlanetSKI

Gatwick airport. Image © PlanetSKI

Last week the government and regulators have told the airlines their summer timetables must be “deliverable”.

The same message will undoubtedly be issued for the flight schedule next winter if problems persist.

There remain fears for next winter.

The aviation industry made thousands of employees redundant during the pandemic and many have yet to be replaced, despite a surge in demand for travel.

Brexit is also having an impact with the end of the free movement of labour from EU countries.

The problem was particularly bad during Easter with an impact on the end of the ski season.

The summer half-term school holidays were affected with British Airways, TUI and Easyjet apologising.

The ground handling firm Swissport said it had hired 3,000 people since the start of the year.

It is taking up to 90 days to get them a full airside pass due to the referencing process.

After the summer eyes will turn to the winter ahead.


EasyJet has announced it is scrapping 7% of the 160,000 flights it expected to run between July and September.

EasyJet said customers would be given advance notice and the potential to rebook onto alternative flights.

EasyJet’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said the airline”had not been able to deliver the service” that customers “have come to expect from us”, and he expected the airline to be able to “re-accommodate” passengers.

“I can’t tell you how many flights will be impacted,” he said.

“It would be misleading for me to give any numbers today because we simply don’t know.”

‘Travel chaos’ headlines are apparently not deterring people from travelling.

The Advantage Travel Partnership claims that bookings for summer departures from June to September are up 33% versus the previous week.

“The data tells us that despite the challenging circumstances for some consumers over the past few weeks, Brits still want to travel and are committed to booking albeit closer to departure than we would normally expect,” said the Leisure Director of  Advantage Travel Partnership, Kelly Cookes.

“Consumers clearly still have the confidence and an appetite to book.”

Ski operators report a similar situation with regard to bookings, though currently it is not a busy booking period for ski holidays.

Innsbruck airport

Innsbruck airport, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI