International airlines launch battle plans to deal with summer travel chaos

American Airlines made ‘short notice’ cancellations in July while easyJet changed its schedule when airports announced passenger capacity caps.

Stephen Brashear | Getty Images

The aviation industry has been in disarray since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, a perfect storm of strikes and staff shortages is forcing airlines to consolidate their battle plans to offset a summer of travel chaos.

Around 90,000 jobs have been lost among US airlines as global mobility came to a halt in 2020, while easyJet and Airbus were among the European companies laying off workers.

The number of passengers for leisure and business flights has since rebounded to reach exceed pre-pandemic figures. However, these money reductions turned into catastrophic shortages.

British Airways Tuesday suspension of sales of short-haul flights from Heathrow to London after the airport asked airlines to cut passenger numbers.

So what are other airlines doing this summer?

Schedule adjustments

Dutch airline KLM will limit the sale of tickets departing from Amsterdam in September and October after Schiphol Airport cap the number of departing passengers.

The airline “does not expect any cancellations will be necessary” to meet the limits imposed by the airport, but warns that “fewer seats than usual will be available on the Dutch market”.

German carrier Lufthansa changed its schedule at the start of the summer and canceled 3,000 flights from Frankfurt and Munich. The first changes were made with the aim of “relieving the entire system and offering a stable flight schedule”, according to the airline.

The airline also has canceled more than 1,000 flights due to a ground crew walkout in July. There are currently no capacity restrictions on the number of passengers.

low cost carrier easyJet changed its schedule in June after Amsterdam’s Schiphol and London’s Gatwick airports announced passenger capacity caps. Since then, “operations have normalized”, according to easyJet, and performance is “now at 2019 levels”.

American airlines made “short notice” cancellations due to Heathrow’s passenger cap, according to the company, but made no mention of future disruptions when asked for comment by CNBC.

Swiss International in July canceled some upcoming flights scheduled between July and October. The airline said the changes had “become necessary due to known air traffic control constraints in Europe, constraints of ground and airport service providers worldwide as well as SWISS”.

As per usual

Dubai’s Emirates airline has made no changes to its schedules or passenger numbers after he refused to comply with Heathrow’s capacity restriction requests in July.

Austrian Airlines is operating its summer flight schedule “as planned”.

Meanwhile, the Irish airline Ryanair says it has “no intention of limiting passenger numbers” and capacity is currently at 115% of its pre-Covid figures.

The recovery remains “fragile” however, according to general manager Michael O’Leary.

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