As the UK air travel disruption continues, airlines such as EasyJet and Wizz Air have canceled scores of flights.
EasyJet announced the cancellation of 80 flights on Sunday and apologized to passengers for the inconvenience.
The airline sector slashed too many jobs during the coronavirus outbreak, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, and it must not oversell flights.
He stated that he wants airlines to pay passengers automatically.
Passengers have been inconvenienced by a slew of UK airline cancellations, which have disrupted many families’ half-term vacations.
Noah, ten, and his younger sister Beau will be absent from school on Monday morning due to a cancelled EasyJet trip that trapped their family in Dalyan, Turkey.
Emma, their hairdresser mother, has had to text customers to cancel appointments.
The family of six, which included Emma’s parents, waited at the airport for 10 hours on Saturday night to see if they would be allowed to fly out as scheduled before being bussed back to the hotel at 4.30 a.m.
EasyJet has provided them a trip to Liverpool on Thursday, but their car is currently stranded at Gatwick.
“The [EasyJet] software basically says rebook or receive a refund,” says Scott’s father. “So, we just spent £3,000 on a ticket back to Stanstead tomorrow night.”
Due to the “ongoing tough operating environment,” EasyJet said it had to cancel roughly 80 flights on Sunday.
“We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused our customers,” the airline stated, adding that it was doing everything it could to get travelers to their destinations.
It stated it had extended its customer service hours from 7:00 a.m. to 23:00 p.m., and that it was assisting individuals affected in finding hotel accommodations.
Mr Shapps told BBC One’s Sunday Morning that the travel inconvenience was caused by labor shortages, with airlines “finding it difficult to get employees on board.”
“When someone buys an airline ticket, they have every right to expect that flight to take off and not be informed that it has been canceled,” he added.
“Airlines should be careful not to oversell such flights, and if there are any issues, they must address them swiftly.”
He said that the government had granted £8 billion in help to the sector during the epidemic, including furloughs, and that the industry had taken the decision to eliminate personnel.
During the coronavirus outbreak, Mr Shapps continued, airlines “cut too deep.”
“Clearly, [the airlines] have been taken aback by the manner people have returned to travel after being stranded for two years,” he added.
He went on to say that he wanted a “legitimate charter” for customers so that they could receive “rapid and transparent compensation or be rebooked on other flights.”
Mr Shapps stated that he wished for a system akin to the “Delay Repay” railway passenger reimbursements, “where it is an automated procedure.”
However, he opposed the idea of reducing immigration limits to help alleviate aviation labor shortages once more.
Airlines have asked the government to give special immigration permits that would allow them to hire foreign employees on a temporary basis, similar to how the haulage and meat processing sectors were able to do.
Sadiq Khan, the Labour mayor of London, welcomed this plan, saying that airport employment should be available to workers from the European Union.
“The administration has brought this upon itself. It’s all about Brexit and Covid.”
He stated, “What we don’t want is for this spring suffering to grow into summer unhappiness.”
Mr Shapps, on the other hand, said that when the government relaxed immigration laws in the haulage business, just 27 lorry drivers came across from the European Union to assist alleviate the chronic shortage, which was instead remedied by government initiatives.
On Sunday, 52 flights and 30 arrivals were canceled at Gatwick Airport, according to the airport.
EasyJet flights were the most disrupted, however British Airways, Wizz Air, and Vueling were all impacted.
Among the flights canceled were those from Barcelona, Nice, Madrid, Belfast, Geneva, Corfu, Faro, Portugal, and Glasgow.
The airport was “functioning normally,” said to a Gatwick representative, although it will be busy with 830 flights.
On a normal day, according to travel expert Simon Calder, half a dozen flights to and from the UK are cancelled, with the cancellations shared across all carriers.
In addition, 3,000 passengers scheduled to fly to Luton on Sunday were rerouted due to a power outage that disrupted air traffic control systems, he added.
British Airways did not respond to a request for comment.
Wizz Air said in a statement that it was doing everything it could to assist travellers in getting to their destinations. Staff shortages in air traffic control, ground operations and baggage handling, security, and throughout airports, it added, were generating “operational instability” in the tourism business.
Customers impacted were offered “sincere apologies” and alternate flights with Wizz Air, a full refund, or 120 percent in airline credit, all of which were expected to be processed within one week.