Cancelled Flights, Disrupted Vacations, Frayed Tempers: Faqs…
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People around the world are anxious to travel again. Those planning to jump on a plane for a vacation have been frustrated by the chaos in the airline industry. Hundreds of thousands of passengers have had their trips disrupted and thousands of flights have been canceled in both North America and Europe.
Answers to some questions about the current problems with air travel can be found here.
Why are so many flights being cancelled or delayed?
A shortage of qualified personnel at airports is the main cause of the disruptions.
Airlines have been taking advantage of recent demand for air travel by returning aircraft and flight schedules to close to 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels, with the resulting volume of flights putting significant stress on the capability of the supporting infrastructure.
Air travel, as measured by the number of kilometres travelled by paying passengers, has started to rebound as pandemic restrictions have been lifted. (International Air Transport Association) Are the problems only happening in certain airports or is this a worldwide issue?
There are a number of European and North American airports that are experiencing congestion during the summer of 2022. The air travel markets that have experienced the highest volumes of air travellers in recent months are the reason behind the concentration of congestion.
Volumes of passengers haven’t been seen in more than two years because of the rapid elimination of COVID-19 protocols in these markets. Tens of thousands of passengers are processed every day in major airline hub airports such as Amsterdam, London and New York.
Are all the problems related to the pandemic?
When the global air travel market collapsed in March 2020 due to travel restrictions and border closings, the commercial aviation industry took steps to conserve cash and maintain a minimal workforce.
Hundreds of thousands of aviation workers were laid off or terminated, with years of experience removed from the ranks of the commercial aviation communities.
Over US$200 billion of financial support was provided by governments to the commercial aviation industry to help it maintain minimal service and prevent financial collapse.
In a very different labour environment, the hiring frenzy began when demand for air travel returned this March. Most of the people who left in 2020 moved on to other career opportunities and no longer wanted to return to an industry characterized by lower compensation and a higher employment risk. Employment levels will continue to be impacted as travel returns as the staff shortages have their beginnings in the Pandemic.
Travelers wait in long lines to check in and board flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, Netherlands, on June 21. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File) How many more people are travelling these days compared to a year ago – and compared to pre-pandemic levels?
The volume of air travel in various world markets is published by the International Air Transport Association. There is a difference in the volume of air travel when compared to the pre-pandemic levels.
Domestic North America has shown the highest rebound in the air travel market, with travel increasing more than 260 per cent compared to April 2021.
In the Chinese domestic market, traffic levels have fallen by close to 80 per cent in April 2022.
What can be done to prevent delays?
There are many perspectives that can be applied to resolve the current level of delays.
European authorities have announced reductions in flights, while the U.S. government is threatening to impose them.
The Canadian government facilitates a meeting with the major aviation organizations in Canada to discuss a concerted and effective resolution and Air Canada announced measures to ease congestion at both Toronto Pearson and Montreal Trudeau airports.
Canadian government officials have announced plans to hire close to 2,000 additional border security and screening personnel. Labour groups don’t know if the problems of congestion will be solved by these actions.
The volume of air travellers being drawn into the airport environment is the main issue. The airport infrastructure is not up to the task of handling surging air travel demand.
In times when adequate and experienced staff are available at airports, the enthusiasm of the airline industry is commendable, but it is not the case now.
Travellers queue at security at Heathrow Airport in London on June 22. People are likely to face travel disruptions until at least September. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein) How long will this last?
The summer travel season in the northern hemisphere is in full swing. Increased demand for air service by a travel-starved population will continue through September.
Unless actions being contemplated by American, European and Canadian carriers result in a reduction of peak loading of aircraft movements across major airline hubs in North America and Western Europe, the congestion and delays will continue.
Demand for air travel will likely be reduced in the fall as the school season begins. The arrival of normal commercial air operating conditions will cause staffing to reach required levels by the fall.
The survival of some airlines may be affected by issues such as higher airfares due to inflation and higher oil prices.
What advice would you give to air travellers over the next few months?
Airport authorities have been giving guidance on how to prepare for summer travel, including tips on how to avoid delays at security checks.
In this coming summer of disruption, I would advise travellers to embark on their air journey with patience, ensure they are well-rested prior to departing for the airport, and remember that airline staff are also experiencing stress.
A smile, a thank you, and a caring attitude for fellow travellers and staff are needed. The experience will get better.
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