Why are flights being cancelled?

LONG queues snaking out of airports have become a common sight in the UK since Easter.

This weekend, as half term kicked off, the issues worsened – airlines have been cancelling flights and families have been pictured sleeping on the terminal floor.

As popular foreign holiday destinations relaxed their Covid border rules ahead of spring / summer 2022, the travel industry had been expecting a boom in holidays abroad.

So why has there been such a problem with airport queues, baggage delays and flight cancellations?

It is a perfect storm of issues, including staffing problems, IT glitches, runway works and air traffic restrictions.

Both airlines and airports were haemorrhaging cash over the course of the pandemic, as Brits were put off foreign holidays thanks to either travel bans, the threat of quarantine or the ever-changing government travel traffic light system.

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That meant staff had to be laid off, with many inevitably finding another career that they have no intention of returning from.

For airports and airlines looking to recruit new staff, the process is more complicated than in a normal occupation due to safety issues.

They have to go through counterterror checks by the government in order to start the job, which has taken longer than usual thanks to the overwhelming numbers of staff being recruited.

The Aviation minister Robert Courts announced he would be relaxing the vetting process last month to ease the pressure, allowing airports and airlines to train staff before the checks had been finished.

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But that hasn't solved the problem as staff can't work airside – where the planes are – until they have been approved.

That affects everything from baggage control to air traffic control and airport security.

Then there's the cabin crew – there needs to be one flight attendant per 50 seats on planes with more than 19 seats.

There are also still large numbers of people catching Covid, which means staff have had to call in sick – throwing timetables into disarray.

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In addition, both British Airways and easyJet have suffered IT issuesin recent months – easyJet's systems had an IT glitch on Thursday that led to hundreds of flight cancellations.

The airline has since announced that it will continue to cancel around 24 flights a day from its base at Gatwick Airport until June 6.

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