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European And U.K. Airports Are ‘Pure Chaos’ Due To Massive Staff Shortages
Airports all over the world are running into the same issues: long lines, lost luggage, canceled flights, and pure chaos. European airports in particular are struggling to meet travel demands this summer, with one of the reasons being staff shortages.
Thousands of airline industry employees from pilots and cabin crew, to baggage handlers, were laid off during the pandemic. Now airports and airlines are struggling to find new employees.
Willie Walsh, head of the International Air Transport Association says, “What makes it difficult for us is that many of the jobs cannot be operated remotely, so airlines have not been able to offer the same flexibility for their workforce as other companies. Pilots have to be present to operate the aircraft, cabin crew has to be present, we have to have people loading bags and assisting passengers.”
Schiphol airport in the Netherlands is cutting flights because they can’t meet the demand. Ben Smith, CEO of airline alliance Air France-KLM says it could be months before Schiphol is able to meet demands. The airport says there are thousands of seats per day above capacity.
Both of London’s major airports — Gatwick and Heathrow are requesting airlines to cap their flights.
About 2,000 flights from major airports in Europe were canceled this month. 376 flights were canceled in U.K. airports.
People are traveling, but airports are experiencing staff shortages, which results in longer security processing for new employees. “They’re all creating bottlenecks in the system,” says Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of the Advantage Travel Group.
Dropping COVID-19 mandates
Bue-Said shared that her group’s agents saw a rise in U.S. bookings after the Biden administration dropped its COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers entering the country.
London’s Heathrow airport has been struggling with unclaimed luggage in a terminal. The airport says the unclaimed luggage is a result of technical glitches with the baggage system. Airlines were asked to cut 10% of flights at two terminals. This cut impacted 5,000 passengers.
Passengers arriving early
Many passengers have been arriving up to 5 hours early at the airport to ensure that they don’t miss their flight. However, officials are turning away earlier travelers because of crowded airports.
Despite these issues, the demand for travel continues to rise.